City air pollution in the Netherlands exceeds EU limits
The air quality in the Netherlands does not meet EU norms, especially in major Dutch cities and in the vicinity of motorways.
Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) measured the amount of nitrogen dioxide on 58 locations across the country, all in cities. 11 of these exceeded EU limits for air pollution.
Amsterdam had the largest number of polluted areas, as four out of the ten streets that were monitored had too much nitrogen dioxide. Rotterdam, The Hague and Maastricht also had areas with excessive air pollution. Utrecht was the only major Dutch city that met European air quality standards.
EU air quality standards
Most EU countries have an upper limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre. The Netherlands was exempt from this requirement for many years, but since January 1, 2015 it also has to meet those environmental standards. Areas in Amsterdam measured 45 and 46 micrograms.
Court case against Dutch government
Milieudefensie has started a lawsuit against the Dutch state, demanding that it take action to improve the air quality in the Netherlands, especially in cities and around highways.
Health risks of air pollution
According to Friends of the Earth Netherlands, air pollution is one of the top three causes of disease and mortality in the Netherlands, along with smoking and obesity.
The inhalation of polluted air brings a greater risk of serious diseases such as respiratory ailments, cancer and cardiovascular disease. This risk is even greater for children and the elderly, according to the environmental organisation.
Sharon Dijksma, State Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, said in response to the report by Milieudefensie that she has created an action plan together with the cities in question to address the issue of air pollution.