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WHO air quality standards
EU plans stricter air quality limits by 2030

Air pollution is the biggest environmental health risk in Europe. In 2021, 96% of the urban population was exposed to concentrations of particulate matter (PM2.5) above the new World Health Organization (WHO) guideline value of 5 µg/m3. The official EU limit currently still in force is significantly higher at 25 µg/m3 – this is about to change. But lower limits also require correspondingly precise measurement technology, as offered by Palas: better than the standard and even more precise than required.

New WHO measurement results of air quality in 2022

An estimated 99% of the world’s population breathes air that is of worse quality than WHO limits for particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide allow, according to the organization’s latest report, dated April 4, 2022. The WHO figures are based on measurement data from more than 6,000 cities in 117 countries. According to the WHO, more than seven million people die as a result of air pollution every year. In 2021, not one country met the WHO limits for air pollution, and in some cities, they were even exceeded tenfold. 

It was not until 2021 – after more than 15 years – that the WHO issued new air quality guidelines with lower limits for the pollutants PM2.5 (particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers), PM10 (particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 10 micrometers), NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), O3 (ozone), SO2 (sulfur dioxide) and CO (carbon monoxide). But the guidelines issued by the WHO are only recommendations and the EU air quality standards are much less strict than those issued by the WHO.
The European Commission has set a target for 2030 to reduce premature deaths from particulate matter (PM2.5) by at least 55% compared to 2005. Consequently, the EU’s air quality directives are to be revised and adapted to the new WHO recommendations.

The Palas solution – precision is what counts

Reliable measurement accuracy is therefore even more important than before to take appropriate measures to protect people and the environment. Conventional techniques such as gravimetric filter weighing reach their limits in this respect, causing greater measurement inaccuracies, especially in the case of low pollutant loads. 

Palas’s certified measuring devices provide the necessary precision and reliability here. Using state-of-the-art optical measurement technology that measures optical light scattering from individual particles, Palas measuring instruments count every single particle in the air. Dr. Frederik Weis, Head of R&D at Palas, compares the precision of Palas instruments as follows: “Put simply, if you want to measure 5ml of liquid with a 1l measuring cup (or larger), the result will be very vague. We therefore rely on the counting-single-particle measurement method, because it guarantees us and our customers exact and reliable data – even at lower limits. That is our claim to quality.” Precise results and trustworthy data are therefore guaranteed, even at very low particle concentrations.


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