One in forty people in the Netherlands exposed to too high levels of fine particles

29/05/2008 15:00

In 2006, one in forty people in the Netherlands lived in areas where the concentration of fine particles in the air was too high. High concentrations of fine particles can damage people’s health. Violation of the European norm for fine particles mainly occurs in the western part of the country. In relative terms, residents of the municipality of Rotterdam suffer most from too high levels of particulate matter, according to calculations by Statistics Netherlands and the Environmental Planning Office.

Strong local concentration of fine particles

In a small number of municipalities – usually with industrial activities and ports – people are regularly exposed to too high amounts of fine particles. High concentrations of fine particles are also found in several agricultural regions in the provinces of North Brabant and Limburg and alongside busy motorways across the country.

In only eight municipalities, the share of people exposed to too high levels of fine particles is above the nationwide average. In approximately 400 municipalities, fewer than 200 people are subject to too high levels of fine particles.

Proportion of residents suffering from too high concentrations of fine particles, 2006

Proportion of residents suffering from too high concentrations of fine particles, 2006

Too high concentration of nitrogen dioxide for 170 thousand people

One in every hundred people in the Netherlands live in an area where the level of airborne nitrogen dioxide is too high. There are also European norms regarding the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the air. Too high levels of nitrogen dioxide are mainly found in industrial regions and alongside busy motorways throughout the country.

There are eight municipalities where the share of people exposed to too high levels of nitrogen dioxide is above the nationwide average. Amsterdam tops the list, followed by Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague.

Proportion of residents suffering from too high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (population involved > 200), 2006

Proportion of residents suffering from too high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (population involved > 200), 2006

About 1 percent of the population are exposed to too high amounts of fine particles and nitrogen dioxide

Over 150 thousand people (corresponding to 1 percent of the Dutch population) are exposed to too high levels of fine particles and nitrogen dioxide. Since traffic and industrial activities are the main sources of high concentrations of fine particles and nitrogen dioxide, violation of the European norms often occur simultaneously in the same areas. In Amsterdam, nearly half of the population were exposed to both types of air pollution. Another 60 thousand residents of Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague were exposed to overdoses of air pollutants.

Bert Bunschoten, Niek van Leeuwen (CBS)  and Frank van Rijn (PBL)