Institut national de l’environnement industriel et des risques
Parc Alata, BP2
Air pollution is one of the most sensitive issues of our time, due to its proven impacts on health and the environment. Paradoxically, it is also governed by the strictest regulations in Europe. Legislation on emission caps and ambient air concentrations are bearing fruit, as trends over the past 20 years show an overall improvement, but they also show that much remains to be done to limit the harmful effects, particularly on health, as effectively as possible.
For the legislator, the difficulty lies in determining the right scope of action for the biggest impact and in introducing the most appropriate management actions. Depending on the pollutants in question, which may be governed by different chemistry-transport processes, industry-specific measures may prevail over local management actions, and international collaboration will have to increase.
It is therefore important to understand and correctly qualify air pollution events (both background pollution and occasional episodes), to determine what actions to take and especially to avoid decisions that might prove counterproductive (concerning cost-effectiveness and communication to the public). Our review of the current knowledge therefore aims to contribute to the debate on the best management strategies to choose to combat air pollution and limit as far as possible the exposure of people and ecosystems.