© Hollandse Hoogte

Particulate matter emissions caused by business activity

Between 2000 and 2016, emissions of particulate matter (PM10) caused by Dutch business activity fell by more than 41 percent, while GDP increased. There is therefore an absolute decoupling of particulate matter emissions and economic growth. Particulate matter emissions have not decreased further since 2013.

The issue

Air pollution caused by particulate matter emissions is harmful to health. In 2013, short-term exposure to air pollution by particulate matter and ozone was responsible for 1 to 1.5 percent of total premature mortality (CLO, 1992 - 2013). For premature death from cardiovascular and respiratory causes, this was 1 to 4 percent. In addition, in 2012 approximately 1 percent of the emergency admissions for pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases in the Netherlands were the result of short-term exposure to particulate matter and approximately 0.2 percent for ozone. An important objective of green growth is therefore improving the emission efficiency of production processes in industry and the economy as a whole.


Emissions of particulate matter by industry fell from 47 million kg in 2000 to 28 million kg in 2016. The largest reductions were achieved in the transport sector, the petroleum industry and the basic metal industry. The decline is mainly due to environmental regulations, including the ‘ Decrees on Emission Requirements for Combustion Installations (BEES)’ and ‘the ‘Netherlands’ Emission Guidelines for Air (NER)’. The regulations have led to process adjustments and an increase in the use of filters. Reduced emissions from road traffic are the result of European emission requirements for new cars. On the other hand, particulate matter emissions in agriculture increased by 3 percent over the period 2000-2016. The increase was mainly due to livestock farming; emissions rose sharply in poultry farming in particular. In horticulture, arable farming and other agricultural sub-sectors, emissions declined instead. Livestock farming accounted for 85 percent of total agricultural emissions and for 22 percent of total production-based emissions in 2016. The transport sector, livestock farming and manufacturing are the largest contributors to particulate matter emissions.

International comparison

The Netherlands has a relatively low emission intensity for particulate matter compared to other countries. Only Luxembourg and Switzerland have an even lower emission intensity.