Air Pollution

Luftreinhaltung – Ein bedeutender Wirtschaftsfaktor in Österreich (© CTP-Air Pollution Control)

Best air quality shows the success of Austrian environmental policy

The aim of a sustainable air pollution policy is the protection of human health, animals and plants, their habitats and the preventive reduction of pollution. Current initiatives, such as the "Enterprise Energy Turnaround" project of the BMLFUW, help households, businesses and municipalities to sustainably reduce their CO2 emissions.

The domestic environmental technology sector offers a range of appropriate technologies that aim at the most comprehensive possible avoidance of air pollutants. Air pollution control and climate protection are major economic factors in Austria. According to Statistics Austria, the sector generated annual sales of around 1.4 billion euros in 2014 with a workforce of almost 10,000 people.

Best air quality - significant reduction in emissions in recent years:

  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia (NH3) and organic compounds without methane (NMVOC)
  • Mandatory limitation within EU Member States
  • Very successful measures: Up to 77% reduction since 1990 in Austria
    • NMVOC: -55% since 1990
    • SO2: -77% since 1990
    •    NOx: -31% since 1990

The immision control law, the air quality directive or the ozone law as well as tight air quality control build the basis of Austrian’s air quality. The compliance with air pollutants such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine dust is controlled at air-quality control points. In addition to the daily air quality report and the daily ozone report, the Federal Environment Agency also publishes monthly and annual reports as well as the climate protection report. The collected data are the basis for measures to maintain and further improve air quality. 

Depending on air pollutants and polluters, different measures are necessary to reduce the pollution:

Nitrogen dioxide

  • The main cause of emergence is road traffic, especially heavy commercial vehicles and diesel cars. Possible measures would be e.g. Speed reductions on motorways and highways, incentives for faster fleet renewal, reduction of traffic volume or driving restrictions.


Fine dust (PM10 and PM2.5)

  • The PM -load is usually caused by a number of polluters (traffic/transport, domestic fuel, trade and industry). For traffic/transport, the same measures are effective as for nitrogen dioxide. Emissions from domestic fuel mainly concern outdated solid fuel heating systems. Thanks to modern heating systems and thermal insulation, emissions can be effectively reduced. In addition to trade and industry, local pollution emerging from construction sites are a main source, especially for PM10. For construction sites, measures such as diesel particulate filters for construction machines and reduction of diffuse emissions are recommended.


Sulfur dioxide

  • Exceedances in sulfur dioxide are mostly caused by industry. Unless they are caused by a fault, sulfur dioxide can be reduced very effectively by modern filter systems.



  • The exposure to ozone can be reduced by a large-scale reduction of the emissions of nitric oxides and volatile organic hydrocarbons (VOC). The latter originates to a large extent from solvents and the evaporation and combustion of fuels.