The air quality in 2023 was better than in 2022, mainly due to the weather conditions. This is according to the large-scale concentration (GCN) maps RIVM creates each year of air pollution in the Netherlands. This report describes the scientific underpinning of the maps that were published in March 2024. 

The air quality in 2023 was better than in 2022. However, the air quality in 2022 was slightly worse than the year before. These kinds of fluctuations are mainly caused by weather conditions. It rained more in 2023 than in previous years, with the rain bringing more air pollutants down to the ground. Winds were also stronger, meaning air pollutants were more dispersed. 

Measurements and calculations create a picture of air pollution

Air pollution is harmful to health. For this reason, every year RIVM creates maps of the entire Netherlands showing the concentrations of pollutants in the air (GCN maps). These pollutants comprise many different substances, including nitrogen dioxide and fine particles. RIVM uses a combination of model calculations and measurements to create these maps. This ensures that the concentrations shown are as close as possible to the actual situation in the past year.

Changes in nitrogen dioxide and fine particles

The average concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in the air were lower in 2023 (by more than 23%) than in 2022. The average concentrations of fine particles were also lower in 2023 than in 2022. The concentration of ultrafine particles smaller than 10 micrometres (PM10) was around 15% lower than in 2022. The same applied to particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres (PM2,5).

Maps used for monitoring reports

It is important to know whether the air quality complies with Dutch and European air quality standards. The GCN maps show this compliance on a large scale. Research that digs into the results in greater detail will be published later this year. This includes the annual report under the EU European Union (European Union)’s Ambient Air Quality Directive and the Air Quality Monitoring (MLK) report. The results of the GCN calculations also play an important role in the biannual progress measurement under the Clean Air Agreement (SLA).