REPORT on the proposal for a Council Directive relating to limit values for sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead ambient air (COM(97)0500 - C40662/97 - 97/0266(SYN))

27 April 1998

Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection
Rapporteur: Mrs Anita Pollack

By letter of 12 December 1997 the Council consulted Parliament, pursuant to Article 189c of the EC Treaty and Articles 129 and 130S of the EC Treaty, on the proposal for a Council Directive relating to limit values for sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead ambient air.

At the sitting of 17 December 1997 the President of Parliament announced that he had referred this proposal to the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection as the committee responsible.S1

At its meeting of 27 November 1997 the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection had appointed Mrs A. Pollack rapporteur.

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection considered the Commission proposal and the draft report at its meetings of 24 February 1998, 18 March 1998 and 23 April 1998.

At the last meeting it adopted the draft legislative resolution unopposed with 2 abstentions.

The following were present for the vote: Collins, chairman; Poggiolini, vice-chairman; Pollack, rapporteur; Apolinario, Blokland, Bowe, Breyer, Correia (for Diez de Rivera Icaza), Graenitz, Hardstaff (for White), Hulthén, K. Jensen, Lange (for Kuhn), Needle, Schleicher, Schlechter (for Lienemann), Virgin and Whitehead.

The report was tabled on 27 April 1998.

The deadline for tabling amendments will be indicated in the draft agenda for the relevant partsession.

A LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL - DRAFT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Proposal for a Council Directive relating to limit values for sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead ambient air (COM(97)0500 - C4-0662/97 - 97/0266(SYN))

The proposal is approved with the following amendments:

Text proposed by the Commission[1]

Amendments by Parliament

(Amendment 1)

Recital 6a. (new)

Whereas in order to facilitate the review stage of the Directive in 2003, the Commission and Member States are required to encourage and support research into the effects of the pollutants referred to herein, namely sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead under the remit of the Fifth Framework Programme and other research programmes;

(Amendment 2)

Recital 8

Whereas standardized accurate measurement techniques are an important element of assessment of ambient air quality;

Whereas standardized accurate measurement techniques are an important element of assessment of ambient air quality, and whereas, in order to determine that quality, measurements must also be taken during periods when tourist areas are full;

(Amendment 3)

Article 3(1)

Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that concentrations of sulphur dioxide in ambient air, as assessed in accordance with Article 7, do not exceed the limit values set out in Section I of Annex I as from the dates specified therein.

Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that concentrations of sulphur dioxide in ambient air, as assessed in accordance with Article 7, do not exceed the limit values set out in Section I of Annex I, as soon as possible and in any event no later than the dates specified therein.

(Amendment 4)

Article 3(3)

Member States shall record data on concentrations of sulphur dioxide averaged over ten minutes from measuring stations at which hourly concentrations are measured. Member States shall report to the Commission the 98th and 99th percentile of 10-minute concentrations measured within the calendar year at the same time as data are supplied on hourly concentrations.

Member States shall, until 31 December 2003, record data on concentrations of sulphur dioxide averaged over ten minutes from measuring stations selected by Member States to be representative of air quality within inhabited areas close to sources. Member States shall report to the Commission the number of 10-minute concentrations which exceed 500 μg/m3 within the calendar year, the number of days within the calendar year on which this occurred and the maximum concentration recorded at the same time as data are supplied on hourly concentrations.

(Amendment 5)

Article 4

Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, and where applicable of nitrogen dioxide plus nitric oxide, in ambient air, as assessed in accordance with Article 7, do not exceed the limit values set out in Section I of Annex II as from the dates specified therein.The margins of tolerance set out in Section I of Annex II shall apply in accordance with Article 8 of Directive 96/62/EC.

Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, and where applicable of nitrogen dioxide plus nitric oxide, in ambient air, as assessed in accordance with Article 7, do not exceed the limit values set out in Section I of Annex II as soon as possible and in any event no later than the dates specified therein.The margins of tolerance set out in Section I of Annex II shall apply in accordance with Article 8 of Directive 96/62/EC.

2. The alert threshold for concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in ambient air is set out in Section II of Annex II. Details to be supplied to the public in accordance with Article 10 of Directive 96/62/EC shall include as a minimum the items listed in Section III of Annex I.

(Amendment 6)

Article 5(1)

Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that concentrations of PM10 in ambient air, as assessed in accordance with Article 7, do not exceed the limit values set out in Section I of Annex III as from the dates specified therein.

Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that concentrations of PM10 in ambient air, as assessed in accordance with Article 7, do not exceed the limit values set out in Section I of Annex III as soon as possible and in any event no later than the dates specified therein.

(Amendment 7)

Article 5(4) a (new)

The alert threshold for concentrations of PM10 in ambient air is set out in Section III of Annex III. Details to be supplied to the public in accordance with Article 10 of Directive 96/62/EC shall include as a minimum the items listed in Section IV of Annex I.

(Amendment 8)

Article 6

Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that concentrations of lead in ambient air, as assessed in accordance with Article 7, do not exceed the limit values set our in Section I of Annex IV as from the dates specified therein.The margins of tolerance set out in Section I of Annex IV shall apply in accordance with Article 8 of Directive 96/62/EC.

Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that concentrations of lead in ambient air, as assessed in accordance with Article 7, do not exceed the limit values set our in Section I of Annex IV as from the dates specified therein.The margins of tolerance set out in Section I of Annex IV shall apply in accordance with Article 8 of Directive 96/62/EC.Exceptionally Member States may designate zones or agglomerations within which the limit value for lead cannot be met by 1 January 2005 owing to concentrations of lead in ambient air due to industrial processes. Member States shall send to the Commission a first list of any such zones or agglomerations together with information and sources of lead therein within two years of the entry into force of this Directive. Within such zones and agglomerations Member States shall prepare plans or programmes in accordance with Article 8(3) of Directive 96/62/EC for attaining an annual average concentration of 1.0 μg/m3 by 1 January 2005 and for attaining the limit value set out in Annex IV as soon as possible thereafter and in any event no later than 1 January 2010. Such plans and programmes shall show clearly an estimate of the area subject to pollution levels and the population exposed above the limit value in Annex IV. They shall aim to reduce population exposure as quickly as possible.

(Amendment 9)

Article 7(6)

Any amendments necessary to adapt this Article and Annexes V to IX to scientific and technical progress shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure set out in Article 12 of Directive 96/62/EC.

Any amendments necessary to adapt this Article and Annexes V, VIII and IX to scientific and technical progress shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure set out in Article 12 of Directive 96/62/EC.

(Amendment 10)

Article 8(1), paragraph 1

Member States shall take appropriate steps to disseminate up-to-date information on ambient concentrations of sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead to the public by means, for example, of broadcast media, press, information screens or computer network services and by notification of appropriate organizations such as environmental organizations, consumer organizations, organizations representing the interests of sensitive populations and other pertinent health care bodies. A list of the organizations notified shall be sent to the Commission at the same time as information transmitted under Article 11 of Directive 96/62/EC.

Member States shall take appropriate steps to disseminate up-to-date information on ambient concentrations of sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead to the public by means, for example, of broadcast media, press, information screens or computer network services and by provision of corresponding data via teletext, the Internet, telephone or fax to pertinent organizations such as environmental organizations, consumer organizations, organizations representing the interests of sensitive populations and other pertinent health care bodies. Information on ambient concentrations of sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter shall be updated on an hourly basis. Information on ambient concentrations of lead shall be updated on a three monthly basis. A list of these organizations shall be sent to the Commission at the same time as information transmitted under Article 11 of Directive 96/62/EC.This information must make clear whether the pollution levels are above, below or equal to the limit and threshold values set out in Annexes I to IV.

(Amendment 11)

Article 8(2)

The public information indicators of Section V of Annex X shall apply for the purposes of Article 5(4) above.

Deleted

(Amendment 12)

Article 8(3)a (new)

All information supplied to the public and all organisations listed in Article 8(1) and Article 8(3) pursuant to Article 8 of this Directive and information supplied to the public pursuant to Article 10 of Directive 96/62/EC shall be clear, comprehensible and accessible for their stated purpose.

(Amendment 13)

Article 9a (new)

In order to facilitate the objectives of the Directive, the Commission and Member States are required to encourage and support- research into the long-term health effects of pollution by sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen;- research into particulate matter, its composition, origin and mechanism of transport within the atmosphere, and the effects of long-term exposure to particulate matter;- research into the epidemiology and toxicology of lead, and the investigation into deposition limit values for lead.- other relevant research as required.

(Amendment 14)

Article 10

The Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and the Council not later than 31 December 2003 a report based on experience of the application of this Directive, and in particular on the results of the most recent scientific research concerning the effects on human health of exposure to sulphur dioxide, to different fractions of particulate matter and to lead, and on progress achieved in methods of measuring and otherwise assessing concentrations of particulate matter in ambient air and the deposition of lead on surfaces.

The Commission shall review by 30 September 2003 the provisions of this Directive, in particular limit values, alert thresholds, action levels and sampling requirements specified in this Directive in the light of technological developments, the latest health information and recent scientific research. The Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and the Council not later than 31 December 2003 a report based on experience of the application of this Directive, and in particular on the results of the most recent scientific research concerning the effects on human health of exposure to sulphur dioxide, to different fractions of particulate matter and to lead, and on progress achieved in methods of measuring and otherwise assessing concentrations of particulate matter in ambient air and the deposition of lead on surfaces. The report shall include proposals for amending the provisions of the Directive in the light of the Commission's review.

(Amendment 15)

Annex I, Section 1, point 1

1. Hourly limit value for the protection of human healthLimit value: 350 μg/m3 not to be exceeded more than 24 times per calendar year.

1. Hourly limit value for the protection of human healthLimit value: 350 μg/m3 not to be exceeded more than 8 times per calendar year.

(Amendment 16)

Annex I, section I, point 3

3. Limit value for the protection of ecosystems, to apply away from the immediate vicinity of sourcesLimit value : 20 μg/m3

3. Limit value for the protection of ecosystems Limit value : 10 μg/m3

(Amendment 17)

Annex II, section I, point 3

3. Annual limit value for the protection of vegetation to apply away from the immediate vicinity of sources

3. Annual limit value for the protection of vegetation

(Amendment 18)

Annex II, Ia (new)

Alert threshold for nitrogen dioxide400 μg/m3 measured over three successive hours at locations representative of air quality across an entire zone or agglomeration.

(Amendment 19)

Annex II, Section Ib (new)

Minimum details to be supplied to the public when the alert threshold for nitrogen dioxide is exceededDetails to be supplied to the public should include as a minimum:* date, hour and place of occurrence* forecasts:- change in concentrations (improvement, stabilisation or deterioration)- geographical area concerned- duration* type of population potentially sensitive to the occurrence* precautions to be taken by the sensitive population concerned.

(Amendment 20)

Annex III, Section Ia (new)

Alert threshold for particulates (PM10)100 μg/m3 measured over three consecutive hours at locations representative of air quality across an entire zone or agglomeration.

(Amendment 21)

Annex III, Section Ib (new)

Minimum details to be supplied to the public when the alert threshold for particulate matter (PM 10) is exceededDetails to be supplied to the public should include as a minimum:* date, hour and place of occurrence* forecasts- change in concentrations (improvement, stabilisation or deterioration)- geographical area concerned- duration* type of population potentially sensitive to the occurrence* precautions to be taken by the sensitive population concerned

(Amendment 22)

Annex VI, Section I.a.ii.

to provide data on levels in other areas within the zones and agglomerations which are representative of the exposure of the general population, and which provide information for air quality management purposes.

to provide data on levels in other areas, including smaller islands or islands forming part of an archipelago, within the zones and agglomerations which are representative of the exposure of the general population, and which provide information for air quality management purposes.

(Amendment 23)

Annex VI, point I(a), paragraph 3

Sampling points may be representative of similar locations not in their immediate vicinity.

Sampling points should, where possible, also be representative of similar locations not in their immediate vicinity.

(Amendment 24)

Annex VI, point II, paragraph 1, indents 5-7

* traffic-orientated samplers should be at least 25 metres from major junctions and should be no less than 4 m from the centre of the nearest traffic lane;* traffic-orientated samplers for the measurement of NO2 should be sited less than 5 metres from the kerb side;* in built-up areas, traffic-orientated samplers for the measurement of particulate matter or lead should be sited to be representative of air quality close to the building line.

* traffic-orientated samplers should be at least 25 metres from major junctions and between 2 and 5 metres from the nearest part of the vehicular carriageway, or at the building line if closer, unless there is a point at which the population may be directly or indirectly exposed to a higher concentration for a period which is significant in relation to the averaging period of the limit values.

(Amendment 25)

Annex VII, I.a., before the first line, new line

I. Minimum number of sampling points for continuous measurement to assess compliance with limit values for the protection of human health and alert thresholds in zones and agglomerations where continuous measurement is the sole source of information

If maximum concentrations are between the upper and lower assessment thresholds

For SO2, in agglomerations where maximum concentrations are below the lower assessment threshold

1

Not applicable

Population of agglomeration or zone

If concentrations exceed the upper assessment threshold

‹ = 250.000

2

(Amendment 26)

Annex IX, III

III. Sampling method and reference method of analysing the concentration of lead in air.[Annex of Council Directive 82/884/EEC of 3 December 1982 on lead in ambient air[

III. Sampling method and reference method of analysing the concentration of lead in air.[The reference method for sampling shall be the method for PM10 described in draft European standard prEN 12341. The reference method of analysing the concentration of lead in air is described in the annex of Council Directive 82/882/EEC of 3 December 1982 on lead in ambient air[

(Amendment 27)

Delete Annex X

Legislative resolution embodying Parliament's opinion on the proposal for a Council Directive relating to limit values for sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead ambient air (COM(97)0500 - C4-0662/97 - 97/0266(SYN))

(Cooperation procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

- having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council COM(97)0500[2] - 97/0266(SYN),

- having been consulted by the Council pursuant to Article 189c of the EC Treaty and Articles 129 and 130S of the EC Treaty (C4-0662/97),

- having regard to Rule 58 of its Rules of Procedure,

- having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection S1(A4-0161/98),

1. Approves the Commission proposal, subject to Parliament's amendments;

2. Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, pursuant to Article 189a (2) of the EC Treaty;

3. Calls on the Council to incorporate Parliament's amendments in the common position that it adopts in accordance with Article 189c (a) of the EC Treaty;

4. Calls for the conciliation procedure to be opened should the Council intend to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

5. Asks to be consulted again should the Council intend to make substantial modifications to the Commission proposal;

6. Instructs its President to forward this opinion to the Council and Commission.

  • [1] () OJ C 009, 14.01.1998, p. 6
  • [2] () OJ C 009, 14.01.1998, p.6

B. EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Europe"s citizens need cleaner air. Current levels of air pollution result in increased mortality, asthmatic attacks, and higher hospital admissions. Expert studies show that twenty four million children a year suffer from respiratory illness (i.e. bronchitis) aggravated by particulate air pollution, which also contributes to some forty thousand early deaths a year in Europe. Sulphur dioxide pollution exacerbates the suffering of asthmatics who constitute 6% of Europe"s population, and one in seven children suffer in London alone. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that exposure to nitrogen dioxide results in 17,000 to 29,000 cases of lower respiratory illnesses requiring medical visits. It is clear, therefore, that current pollution levels must be reduced so as to minimise dangers for vulnerable groups in society and the strain on our health services.

1. Background to Commission Proposal

This is the first daughter directive following the Air Quality Framework Directive (Council Directive 96/62/EC). That directive prioritised sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and lead as the first area for action. This directive follows the Framework Directive in using Articles 130r and 129 as its legal base.

The Commission has prepared an excellent, thorough and far-reaching document. The proposed directive is the product of two years of roundtable dialogue between the stakeholders and represents an innovative exercise in co-operation and dialogue between industry, NGOs and national experts, where a wide degree of agreement was reached. This inclusive consultation is a welcome step forward from the more limited effort made in the Auto-Oil programme.

The basis for the Commission"s proposed directive has been a consideration of recent WHO examinations of air quality pollution levels within Europe, a risk and cost benefit analysis, and an analysis of the feasibility of implementation.

The Commission"s proposal does not address the air quality standards faced in potential accession applicant countries. The Commission is however aware of the problems potential accession states will have in meeting these standards.

2. Goals of the Directive

This draft directive includes proposals to establish limit values, alert thresholds, margins of tolerance, and target dates for the attainment of the limit values for the above-mentioned four pollutants. It establishes uniform measuring criteria and techniques. It sets requirements for the provision of information to the public on pollution conditions. It seeks to remedy potential damage to public health, the environment, and damage to buildings and vegetation caused by these pollutants.

The measures form part of an integrated package of measures foreseen by the Commission and designed to combat problems of air pollution. Further proposals are now being developed for other pollutants such as benzene, carbon monoxide, ozone, as is a strategy for reducing emissions of precursors of ozone.

The standards proposed will be achieved by a combination of measures including national air pollution control strategies, the Auto Oil Programme, the liquid sulphur fuels directive,IPPC (Integrated Pollution and Prevention Control), the EU acidification strategy, and additional local action plans.

3. Definitions

3.1 Limit Values

The limit values proposed by the Commission aim to establish the level of a particular pollutant in the air below which, within current scientific knowledge, there are no significant detrimental effects for health or the environment. Where this is not possible, as in the case of particulate matter, for which no safe thresholds for effects on health can be established, they aim to bring about a substantial reduction in impacts. The limit values comprise both a concentration component and a time component, that is, they not only specify a maximum allowable concentration of a particular pollutant, but in addition levels which must be measured over a reference period of one year. The limit value will dictate how many times, or for how long, the concentration of the pollutant may rise above a particular level within one year.

In cases where the actual levels are so high as to require a great deal of work in order to reach the limit value by the target date, a margin of tolerance is set which identifies the worst areas. In these cases there is a requirement to send improvement plans for meeting the limit values to the Commission.

3.2 Alert Thresholds

The alert threshold represents the level of a particular pollutant in the atmosphere above which there is a health risk from brief exposure. If the alert threshold is exceeded, the authorities will be required to inform the public immediately.

3.3 Margins of Tolerance

A margin of tolerance is a concentration which is higher than the limit value when legislation comes into force, and decreases to meet the limit value by the attainment date. Despite its name it is not a derogation from a limit value. It identifies the areas where current air quality is worst and acts as a trigger to encourage action to be taken to ensure that the limit value will be met on time. Its purpose is to identify the zones with the worst air quality. Detailed action plans must be prepared for these areas showing how the limit values will be met on time. Action plans must be made available to the public and sent to the Commission, which will monitor progress.

4.The Pollutants

4.1 Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Oxide (NO)

The Commission has proposed the following for NOX:

An hourly limit value for the protection of human health of 200 ug/m3 not to be exceeded more than 8 times per year, to be met by 1 January 2010. An annual limit value for the protection of human health value of 40 ug/m3 to be met by 1 January 2010. An annual limit for the protection of vegetation of 30 ug/m3 to be achieved two years from the entry into force of the Directive.

NOX is a combination of NO and NO2, the latter being more damaging. NOX derives mainly from anthropogenic sources, the main contributor being traffic but with some 30% of emissions coming from power generation and the manufacturing industry. It is a particular problem in urban areas and control measures on traffic are therefore essential. Acute exposure can lead to severe pulmonary damage in healthy humans. Chronic long term exposure may lead to respiratory symptoms.

NO2 in high concentration can also lead to damage in plant leaves. Nitrogen deposition in an ecosystem results in eutrophication, and in severe cases can result in acidification. Tighter controls on emissions from power plants are therefore essential for the protection of eco systems.

4.2) Sulphur Dioxide

The Commission has proposed the following for Sulphur Dioxide(SO2):

An hourly limit value for the protection of human health of 350 ug/m3 not to be exceeded more than 24 times per calendar year, with a margin of tolerance of 150 ug/m3 on entry into force of the Directive reducing to the limit value by 2005.

A daily limit value for the protection of human health of 125 ug/m3 not to be exceeded more than 3 times per year to be met by 2005.

A limit value for the protection of ecosystems of 20 ug/m3 to be met by two years from the entry into force of the Directive.

It also establishes an alert threshold of 350ug/m3 over three consecutive hours to be met 18 months from the coming into force of this Directive.

Sulphur dioxide is an irritant which when inhaled in sufficiently high quantities may cause breathing difficulties. It exacerbates asthma and chronic lung conditions, but the causal relationship between increased pollution and increased incidences of asthma attacks and respiratory problems is difficult to establish in the light of current scientific knowledge.

4.3) Particulate Matter

The Commission has proposed the following two stage plan for particulate matter:

PM10

Stage 1

A 24 hour limit value for the protection of human health of 50 ug/m3 not to be exceeded more than 25 times per year. An annual limit value for the protection of human health of 30 ug/m3 by 2005.

Stage 2

A twenty four hour limit value for the protection of human health of 50 ug/m3 not to be exceeded more than seven times per year. It establishes a margin of tolerance to be devised from data and to be equivalent to the stage 1 limit value to be met by the target date of 1 January 2010.

An annual limit value for the protection of human health of 20 ug/m3 to be met by the target date of 1 January 2010.

PM10 refers to that fraction of particulates that are 10 microns or less, PM2.5 refers to that fraction of particules that are 2.5 microns or less. Particulate matter comes from anthropogenic sources such as car emissions or power plant emissions and natural sources i.e. dust in arid areas. In most European countries, industrialisation and high volumes of traffic mean that anthropogenic sources predominate. However, no single source dominates absolutely and the most significant source varies from location to location and, indeed, at different times of the year.

There is currently no coherent overall Europe-wide data on PM10, mainly because PM10 has only been systematically monitored in a few member states. A standardised method of monitoring is under development. There is currently no established data on PM 2.5 upon which to make public policy choices. Since medical experts suggest the smallest particulates are the most dangerous, the Commission proposes that PM2.5 should be monitored and that Member States should aim to reduce PM2.5 concentrations when meeting limit values for PM10.

The Commission also proposes a derogation for arid regions within the European Community, where there are high levels of natural dust. Most natural particulates are larger than 2.5 microns in diameter. The Commission therefore proposes that areas prone to natural dust should adopt action levels for PM2.5 as targets in the first stage of implementation. They would be required to meet these as far as possible, and the derogation would be reviewed before stage 2.

PM2.5

A twenty four hour action level for the protection of human health of 40 ug/m3 of PM2.5 not to be exceeded more than 14 times per year to be met by 2005.

An annual action level for the protection of human health of 20ug/m3 of PM2.5 with a margin of tolerance of 50% reducing linearly from 1st January 2001 to reach 0% by the target date of 2005.

No safe level for the inhalation of particulate matter has been yet identified by health experts. Particulate matter can lead to respiratory problems, such as inflamation of the alveolar and the exacerbation of asthma, and thus increased mortality and increased hospital admissions. Obtaining a direct cause and effect for particulate matter is difficult due to the cocktail of pollutants in the atmosphere and their interaction. Experts suggest that PM2.5 is the most damaging fraction due to its small size penetrating more deeply into the lungs, and penetrating indoor environments.

Measures being taken now to reduce emissions of SO2, together with traffic filtering mechanisms, and filtering of combustion and industrial processes, should lead to further reductions in current levels. PM 2.5 levels will proportionally decline with the reduction of PM 10 levels.

4.4) Lead.

The Commission has proposed the following for lead:

An annual limit value for the protection of human health of 0.5 ug/m3 to reduce progressively until 1 January 2005.

The Commission also calls for a deposition limit value feasibility study report to be produced by 3 December 2003.

The current annual limit value for the protection of human health is 2 ug/m3. This level has now been reached by most Member States. The Commission"s proposed limit is based on WHO recommendations. Lead pollution can result in foetal damage, and slight impairment of IQ in vulnerable sections of society i.e. children under the age of six are thought to be particularly vulnerable to lead pollution's side effects.

Lead pollution derives from contaminated water supplies (through affected groundwater or via lead water pipes in soft water areas), ingestion of dust from flaking lead paint, and ingestion of dust from soil. Water supplies are not dealt with in this directive, which is concerned with air quality only.

With the phasing out of leaded fuel in the European Union by 2001, lead pollution levels will reach the target of 0.5 ug/m3 by the target date of 2005. Some problems will be encountered in limited locations adjacent to those industrial processes involved in lead recycling and the non ferrous metal industry. Lead levels may exceed the proposed limit value because of lead soil deposits on old industrial sites. Some industrial sites will be unable to meet the targets by 2005, and those plants would not even meet the targets if they were shut down. Such closures could impair the European Union"s recycling industry, of which the affected industrial plants are a major part. The Commission is currently examining this issue with its forthcoming Communication on the Competitiveness of the Recycling Industry.

6. Recommendations

Your Rapporteur has sought to tighten standards where feasible in the light of current scientific knowledge and where economically realistic, while bearing in mind that the standards proposed by the Commission in the most part are well reasoned, ambitious, and achievable, even if with difficulty.

Further research and development is necessary and can be undertaken, both under the aegis of the European Unions"s existing research programmes and as part of Member States' efforts to examine the issue of air pollution. Your rapporteur has sought to encourage research into the following areas:-

i) the synergistic effect of a combination of pollutants,

ii) to further develop understanding of the causal link between air pollution and health effects,

iii) to further develop measuring techniques and technology to increase understanding of the level of air pollutants.

To facilitate the need for future research and contribute to the policy debate on air pollution a review of the proposed directive by the Commission in 2003 has been suggested.

Following Parliament´s past policies in regard to air pollution monitoring, your Rapporteur has called for increased public information requirements so as to make information about the state of European air clear, correct and accessible to citizens. This necessitates the establishment of alert thresholds for particulates, nitrogen dioxide, and nitrogen oxides which were not part of the Commission proposal.

Clarification of measurement techniques to ensure greater uniformity in Member States has also been requested.

7. Explanation of Parliament"s Amendments

Amendment 1 (Recital 6a.(new))

This amendment opens the door to the necessary further research which will aid the 2003 review. Further elaboration in Amendment 14. Most of the working party participants have supported the need for further research.

Amendment 4 (Article 3(3))

Member States should provide information that will be helpful in assessing whether targets are being met due to the increasing stringency of the limit values. This will increase the information that should be available to the public.

Amendment 5 (Article 4)

This is to ensure greater transparency for the public of alert threshold information on NO2 produced by the Commission as required under Article 10.

Amendment 7(Article 5(4) a (new))

This is to ensure greater transparency for the public of the alert threshold information on PM10 produced by the Commission under Article 10.

Amendment 9 (Article 7(6))

Annexes VI and VII concern, respectively, the location and the number of monitoring stations. Following Parliament´s past policy on commitology it seeks to reduce the possibility of weakening the Directive by allowing measurement requirements to be changed through a committee procedure, i.e. not going via Parliament and Council. Siting criteria and the number of stations are too important to be amended via the procedure laid down by the Commission.

Amendment 10 - (Article 8(1)), paragraph 1

The purpose here is to ensure that information is made available to the public on an hourly basis. The Article as drafted is imprecise, leaving individual Member States to decide the basis for providing the public with up-to-date information.

The additions here are designed to strengthen the dissemination and increased transparency of information to the public, ultimately making information regarding the air that Europeans breathe more precise, accessible and understandable.

Amendment 12 - (Article 8(3)a) [new[

The information supplied to the public via the public authorities' information systems, i.e. Ceefax, Internet, TV, is at times incomprehensible to all but the technical expert.

Information on the current status of air pollution should be transparent and clearly comprehensible, if it is to be useful in informing the public.

Amendment 13 (new)

There is a need for further research in the light of the review and revision proposals as set out in Amendment 1. This elaborates the areas most needing research.

Further research is primarily needed into the health effects of SO2 and NOX, e.g. the question of whether there is a causal relationship with asthma or the degree to which it is a contributory or exacerbatory factor.

There is a need for a great deal more research into the area of particulate pollution.

Although there is a great deal of current research on PM10 which reveal more health and environmental effects, not enough effective measurement technology has been developed.

Further research needs to be done into the health effects of lead and how to deal with the clean up of areas with major lead pollution.

Amendment 14

Most stakeholders see the need for a revision in 2003 - which is currently set out as the review period under Article 10 of the Commission"s proposal.

The revision should be based on the highest level of scientific knowledge available at the time.

Amendment 15(Annex I, section I, point I)

Replace 24 exceedances with 8 exceedances.

350 ug/m3 is intended to be the equivalent of the World Health Organisation's ten minute guideline of 500ug/m3. It is difficult to determine the best hourly value to provide such protection and therefore difficult to justify any tightening of this headline figure. Reducing the number of exceedances would increase the protection of health with no significant cost implications.

Amendments 16 and 17

The imprecise text is removed.

Amendment 19

Repeats the alert threshold requirement set out for SO2 (Annex I, III).

Amendment 20

Setting up an alert threshold for PM10 equivalent to the level in the UK. These alert thresholds would enable the public to be informed of a level of pollution beyond which there is a risk to human health from brief exposure and at which immediate steps shall be taken by the Member State, with regard to PM10. No provision for this is made in the Commission text.

Amendment 21

Repeats the alert threshold requirement set out for SO2 (Annex I, III).

Amendment 23

See explanation to Amendment 20.

Amendment 24

Unless siting requirements for monitoring of air pollution are prescribed unambiguously, there is a danger that it may be possible to appear to have met the terms of the Directive simply by careful selection of sites. The suggested words will provide a clearer explanation for the people who will be implementing these sampling points directed at the protection of ecosystems and other vegetation.

8. Conclusion

Your Rapporteur believes this is a strong and very much needed piece of legislation and that overall, the text from the Commission is both ambitious and carefully thought out. If it is implemented, it will begin to make a tangible difference to the quality of air for Europe"s citizens within a decade.