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Following on from the polluting emissions of large industrial plants, all emissions from small and mobile sources will now be identified and listed. The European Commission has announced that the first consolidated European inventory of polluting substances from small sources - cars, aircraft, boats, domestic boilers and small farms - went online on 18 September. Up until now, detailed data on emissions at EU level have been compiled only for large industrial sources, such as factories and power stations. The inventory of diffuse sources of pollution represents an important step towards creation of the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (European PRTR).

The inventory reveals that releases into air and water from diffuse sources make up a significant share of total pollution, even exceeding in some cases emissions by large industrial installations, to which Community regulations already apply. The new inventory covers emissions into air and water from sources such as agriculture, transport (road, maritime, air and rail), household heating, military activities, gas distribution, roofing, asphalting and the use of solvents. At this stage, most of the data included concerns the year 2003. It can be found at

The data identify road transport, household heating and agriculture as the sectors producing the highest levels of pollution from diffuse sources. For most of the 25 pollutants reviewed, these three sectors account for more than 90% of emissions from all diffuse sources. For some pollutants, emissions from diffuse sources match or even surpass polluting releases from big industrial plants. For example, annual emissions of copper into the air from road transport came to 260 tonnes (EU25, 2001-2003), or almost twice the 136 tonnes released by regulated installations (EU25, 2004). Copper-containing brakes on vehicles are the leading source of releases of copper into the air from road transport.

The data in the new inventory of diffuse sources of pollution has been compiled mainly from existing sources: inventories of atmospheric pollutant emissions created under the directive setting national emission ceilings; inventories set up under the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution; inventories of greenhouse gas emissions kept in connection with the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change; and member state reports on the consequences of diffuse sources of pollution on bodies of water under the Water Framework Directive. The data can be consulted on the European Environment Agency's website at

European PRTR

The European PRTR is established by Regulation (EC) 166/2006, in force since February 2006. It implements the PRTR Protocol of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), signed by the EU in May 2003. Like the European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER) set up in 1994, it will be managed jointly by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency. Data on pollutants released into air and water by some 9,200 industrial installations are already recorded in the EPER. The PRTR, which will be published for the first time in autumn 2009 based on data for 2007, will replace the EPER and will be more exhaustive. It will allow monitoring of emissions into air, water and soil as well as the evacuation of waste and wastewater from large plants and diffuse sources. The register will cover more than 91 substances.
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Publication:Europe Energy
Date:Sep 27, 2006

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