Concentrations have decreased, limit values still exceeded locally
In 2016, modelled concentrations of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in most parts of the Netherlands were below European limit values. However, nitrogen dioxide concentrations still exceed the limit value at a number of busy inner city locations, primarily in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Particulate matter concentrations still exceed limit values in some intensive livestock farming and industrial areas. As a result, the Netherlands does not yet fully comply with European limit values for nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. During the next few years, the number of locations in inner-city areas where the values are being exceeded is expected to decrease.
Expected concentrations in 2020
In 2016, the average concentration of nitrogen dioxide rose slightly compared to 2015. However, nitrogen concentrations are expected to decrease in the period up to and including 2020. In 2016, the average concentration of particulate matter fell in comparison with the year before, but it is not clear whether this trend will continue.
These are the conclusions from the monitoring activities carried out as part of the National Air Quality Cooperation Programme (NSL). The NSL monitoring report highlights general population exposure to particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. Lower concentrations of these pollutants would further improve public health, even when they are already below European limit values.
Uncertainties and risks
NSL calculations are based on current data, which government bodies have to supply. In recent years, data quality has improved substantially, particularly for traffic sites. Improving data quality remains a strong focus of importance to produce a reliable picture of air quality.
In many locations, the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter are close to European limit values. Slight increases in concentrations could strongly affect the number of exceedances. This means the number of exceedances is sensitive to uncertainties in the calculations.