Pollutants can be in the form of solid particles, liquid droplets, or gases. The one thing they all have in common is the harm they cause to humans and the environment. Pollutants may be natural but the majority like sulfur or nitrogen oxides as well as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds, is produced by human activity. A big part in the polluting process plays transport.
Accessibility is a key ingredient of well-being and economic growth in contemporary industry and commerce. Since transportation has become so important in supplying the industry and people in all range of goods, organisations and authorities such as the EU have taken decisive steps to decrease to level of air pollution. However, the latest report on compliance with the directive that sets National Emissions Ceilings for four pollutants (sulphur dioxide, non-methane volatile organic compounds, ammonia and nitrogen oxides) shows 10 countries and the EU as a whole failing on lowering nitrogen oxides emissions.
The main cause of the bad results is thought to be road transport failing to deliver expected cuts. In its annual report published this month, the European Environment Agency (EEA) says the EU as a whole missed its target for reducing NOx emissions by 17%. The worst offenders are Austria, France and Germany who all recorded NOx levels at least 30% higher than their targets. As road transport contributed more than 40% of total EU NOx emissions in 2009, it is the primary cause of the failure to reach the reduction targets. The EEA says NOx per vehicle has been reduced, but not by as much as it was originally expected. The main reasons for that are vehicle emissions standards, which have not always delivered the anticipated level of reductions and the unexpected growth of road transport sector.