Air pollution is hazardous to health and the environment. It is important to limit the levels of air pollutants. RIVM monitors the amount of these substances in the air, researches effects of air pollution on health and environment and delivers information to government authorities as basis for their policy decisions.

Film RIVM Air quality

(On-screen text: National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. An aerial view of dunes. Children play on a beach. A girl has sunscreen applied. A weatherman:)



(Tomorrow there will be a chance of smog in the centre of the country, according to the RIVM. This is not a problem for most people but is for those with lung conditions.)

(On-screen text: Air Quality. A blue sky with clouds. Voice-over:)


VOICE-OVER: Poor air quality is a threat to our health and well-being.

The main sources of air pollution are traffic, industry and livestock farming.

(Grazing cows.)

RIVM monitors air quality in the Netherlands

and advises the government authorities.

This is a complex process.

The strength of RIVM is that it covers the entire chain.

KEES VAN LUIJK: RIVM is the national institute for environmental monitoring.

We do air quality measurements

but we also have a model with traffic and industry, all the emission sources,

and the model calculates the air quality.

So we can compare the measurements with calculations

and together we can give advice to the government

about air quality and improving air quality.

VOICE-OVER: RIVM researches the impact that air pollution has on people,

because that impact is significant.

Long-term exposure to fine particulates in the atmosphere

can aggravate various cardiovascular and respiratory conditions.

Efforts to improve air quality

are set out in the National Air Quality Cooperation Programme, or NSL.

(A man is typing.)

RIVM monitors air quality, using the national Air Quality Monitoring Network.

Sixty permanent monitoring stations

register the concentrations of certain substances in the atmosphere.

RIVM also uses this data as input for models.

(Various masts.)

One notable monitoring station is the site of the 213 metre tall Cabauw mast,

which was erected by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute.

Instruments are mounted at various heights to monitor variables

such as particulates, nitrogen oxides and wind speed.

(Smoking chimneys.)

RIVM also has mobile monitoring equipment,

seen here close to the industrial centre of Pernis, near Rotterdam.

Lasers are used to scan for sulphur dioxide emissions

in and around the plumes of smoke.

The equipment systematically zooms in on predetermined segments of the atmosphere.

(An aerial view of dunes, followed by one of a river. Margreet van Zanten:)


MARGREET VAN ZANTEN: Well, many people know

that air pollution can be harmful for people

but air pollution can be harmful for nature as well,

because in the air we have all kinds of compounds

that have nitrogen in them

and if this nitrogen is deposited on the ground, it acts as a kind of fertiliser.

And this fertilisation of nature leads to a depleted ecosystem.

(A man drives along a forest trail on a quad bike.)


VOICE-OVER: International measures have been agreed to limit damage to ecosystems.

The National Acidification Trend Monitoring Network

helps to monitor the long-term effects of those measures.

Groundwater sampling is a reliable method that is used for this purpose.

(The man pours fluid from clear tubing into a small bottle.)


The Ammonia in Nature Areas monitoring network

records ammonia concentrations in the air.

Small glass tubes fitted with a filter are sent to RIVM.

With samples taken at 236 sites nationwide, a reliable impression is obtained

of ammonia concentrations in nature areas throughout the country.

European policy on nitrogen compounds has been implemented in the Netherlands

in the programmatic action plan for nitrogen.

The main role of RIVM in this programmatic approach is to monitor

whether nitrogen deposition in those nature areas is decreasing.

VOICE-OVER: Air pollution is not restricted by national boundaries.

International policy is therefore essential.

VAN LUIJK: Air quality is an international issue.

Air pollution is crossing borders.

We have a lot of contact with our colleagues in other countries,

so that we meet the same requirements for measurements and calculations

and we have the same advice for governments

and international air quality policy.

VOICE-OVER: The quality of the Netherlands' air, soil and water

is steadily improving.

Through its independent research and its advisory role,

RIVM is making a significant contribution to a better, cleaner environment.

(The on-screen text "Committed to health and sustainability" appears in blue letters against an orange background. The text disappears and the screen turns white.)