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Document 32008L0050

Cleaner air for Europe

Cleaner air for Europe

To protect human health and the environment, the air we breathe should be as clean as possible. This means taking active measures to monitor the purity of ambient (or outside) air and removing any pollutants.


Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe.



It establishes air quality objectives, including ambitious, cost-effective targets for improving human health and environmental quality up to 2020. It also specifies ways of assessing these and of taking any corrective action if the standards are not met. It provides for the public to be kept informed.


This directive merges most of existing air quality legislation into a single directive, and includes the following key elements.

  • Thresholds, limit values and target values are set to assess each pollutant covered by the directive: sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, lead, benzene and carbon monoxide.
  • National authorities designate specific bodies to carry out these tasks using data collected at selected sampling points.
  • Where pollution levels in any particular area are higher than the thresholds, air quality plans must be introduced to correct the situation. These may include specific measures to protect sensitive groups, such as children.
  • If there is a risk that pollution levels may exceed the thresholds, short-term action plans to reduce road traffic, construction works or certain industrial activities, for instance, must be implemented to head off the danger.
  • National authorities must ensure that not only the public, but also environmental, consumer and other relevant organisations, including health care bodies and industry federations, are kept informed of the ambient air quality(i.e. the outdoor air) in their area.
  • governments of EU countries must publish annual reports on all the pollutants covered by the legislation.

For more information, see:



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2008/50/EC



OJ L 152, 11.6.2008, pp. 1-44

Various corrections to Directive 2008/50/EC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is intended purely as a documentation tool.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: A clean air programme for Europe (COM(2013) 918 final of 18.12.2013).

last update 30.06.2015