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EU sets new limits for fine particle emissions

The EU Council of Ministers has endorsed a new directive setting binding EU-wide limits for fine particle emissions.

The new EU air quality directive was approved on 14 April 2008. The directive sets EU-wide limits on fine particle emissions (PM2.5) for the first time ever. The directive obliges member states to reduce exposure to PM2.5 in urban areas by an average of 20% by 2020 based on 2010 levels, bringing the exposure levels below 20 micrograms/m3 by 2015. In other areas, the member states will need to respect the PM2.5 limit value set at 25 micrograms/m3 by as early as 2010 if possible - and at the latest by 2015. In a statement annexed to the directive, the Commission announces a number of new legislative proposals it plans to put forward in 2008 for ever improved air quality.

These include further reduction of the member states permitted national emissions of key pollutants, reduction of emissions asociated with refuelling of petrol cars at service stations, and addressing the sulphur content of fuels, including marine fuels. The Commission also notes that it is currently studying the feasibility of improving the eco-design and reducing the emissions of domestic boilers and water heaters as well as reducing the solvent content of paints, varnishes and vehicle refinishing products.

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