Three-steps to EU emissions inventory proposed

Swedish EPA report recommends phased introduction of EU polluting emissions register

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended a three-stage introduction for an EU inventory of industrial emissions of key pollutants. A report has been submitted to the European Commission and will be presented next week to a committee convened under the EU's 1996 directive on integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC).

Under the IPPC directive, the EU is committed to developing a European polluting emissions register (EPER), which will report "principal emissions and their sources" in each EU member state every three years. The idea was largely inspired by the successful American register known as the toxics release inventory (TRI). Though a few EU countries have national inventories there is currently no equivalent to the TRI at EU level.

Sweden volunteered to report to its EU partners on options for introducing the EPER because it is currently engaged in similar research in order to develop a system of its own. The resulting report is not Sweden's ideal model for the register, according to Håkan Björndahl of the EPA, but is a simple and practical system that could be introduced quickly by all EU countries, including those who would have to "start from scratch" to implement it.

As a first stage, the EPA recommends reporting of industrial emissions of eight gases that are already monitored at national level by all EU countries under a programme called Corinair. The gases are carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, ammonia, nitrous oxide, nitrogen dioxide, methane and non-methane volatile organic compounds. Some substances emitted to water could also be included in the first stage, the EPA suggests.

In a second phase, the EPA suggests, reporting could be extended to include a variety of substances emitted to water or to air, including heavy metals (and their compounds). The proposed list consists of: benzene, ethylene, styrene, toluene, xylenes, asbestos fibres, CFCs, hydrogen chloride, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), dust/particles, plus lead, mercury, nickel, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper and zinc.

Further organohalogen compounds would be added in a third stage, possibly along with a yet-to-be-determined list of long-lived organic compounds that will be phased out by 2020 under the terms of the Esbjerg declaration made in 1995 by states surrounding the North Sea. Organohalogens suggested by the EPA for inclusion in this phase of the EPER's development include methylene chloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene.

Follow Up:
Swedish EPA, tel: +46 8 698 1000. References: "Analysis of a European Polluting Emissions Register". An English-language press release on the report is available at:

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