Long-range transport of air pollutants

Pollution knows no borders. In 1979 international cooperation has been established to control transboundary air pollution. Since that time the convention has been an important instrument to protect the environment from damages caused by air pollution.

In the 1970s research showed that emissions of SOx (sulphur oxides) and NOx (nitrogen oxides) can be transported over long distances within the atmosphere and can be deposited onto soil and water via precipitation and particles. This is causing serious damage in nature. In the same way emissions of ammonia (NH3), e.g. from land use, can lead to eutriphication of water ways.

In 1979 the UNECE (UN’s Economic Commission for Europe) adopted the “Convention on long-range Transboundary Air Pollution” which came into force in 1983. As part of the Long-range Convention eight protocols have been elaborated with demands on each country’s emissions of acidifying compositions, such as SOx, NOx and eutrophic compositions like NH3.

This field of research has been one of NILU’s main activities since the 1970s. The breakthrough for the convention was the research report “Long Range Transport of Air Pollutants, measurements and Findings” which has been compiled for OECD by NILU in 1977.