Ammonium Nitrate Chemistry

Is the EU Getting Tough on Air Pollution?

The European Commission looks set to take nine member countries to court over their unhealthy air.

The economic powerhouses of Europe such as France, Germany, and the UK often lead the world in environmental protection, yet have struggled to deal with poor air quality, a major health concern across the continent.  In part, this is due to Europe being densely populated and heavily industrialised, but it also stems from air pollution being an issue that crosses boundaries and is politically difficult to enforce.  There is also an important role for science to play here, with accurate chemical transport models needed to attribute pollution to its source and to identify the best way to meet key pollutant target levels.

The EU have air quality regulations in place for their member states, but have been reluctant in the past to enforce them.  Last year, however, they successfully prosecuted Bulgaria for particulate matter violations, and are now in the final stages of infringement proceedings against Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and others for exceeding nitrogen dioxide targets.  Whether or not they follow through with these proceedings, and then receive a favourable ruling at the European Court of Justice, remains to be seen.