The European Commission is referring Slovakia to the European Court of Justice over poor air quality due to high levels of particulate matter (PM10).
The daily limit values for PM10 concentrations have been legally binding since 2005 but data provided by Slovakia confirms “systematic exceedances” in the air quality zone Banskobystrický kraj over the period 2005 to 2019 (except for 2016) and in the agglomeration Košice between 2005 and 2019 (except 2015 and 2016).
PM10 refers to particles with a diameter smaller than 10 micrometres and is mainly present in emissions from industry, road transport and home heating but is also produced by emissions from agriculture.
This type of pollution causes serious illnesses such as asthma, cardiovascular problems and lung cancer as well as affects plant growth and ecosystem processes.
When the limit values set by the EU’s ambient air quality legislation are exceeded, member states are required to adopt plans to ensure appropriate measures are taken to deep the duration of the exceedance “as short as possible”.
According to the Commission, the air quality measures presented by Slovakia have not proven to be timely and effective to reduce pollution within the agreed limits and they do not contribute to keeping the exceedance periods as short as possible, as required by EU law.
Air pollution remains the number one environmental health problem in the EU, with estimates from the European Environment Agency suggesting around 400,000 premature deaths could be attributed to air pollution every year in the EU.