Table of Contents

Measuring Environmental Degradation

Measuring Environmental Degradation

Developing Pressure Indicators for Europe

Edited by Anil Markandya and Nick Dale

Measuring Environmental Degradation is a unique book that provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of the key issues of environmental significance addressed as part of the Eurostat ‘Environmental Pressure Indicators Project’. The book is part of the ‘Towards Environmental Pressure Indicators for the EU’ (TEPI) series that has resulted from the project.

Chapter 3: Air quality indicators

B. Sivertsen

Subjects: environment, environmental sociology


B. Sivertsen 1. INTRODUCTION Indicators for air quality have been identified and used within the pressure– state–response framework (PSR). The PSR framework is based on a concept of causality whereby human activities exert pressures on the environment and change its state, that is, quality and quantity of natural resources, and society makes a response to these changes through environmental, general economic and sector policies. One important tool in judging the state of the environment is to establish environmental pressure indicators linked to human activities and natural sources. These indicators should also be used for identifying the state of the environment and should be simple and easily understandable for policymakers and the public. In general terms, an indicator can be defined as a parameter, or a value derived from parameters, which provides information about a phenomenon. The indicator has significance that extends beyond the properties directly associated with the parameter value. Indicators possess a synthetic meaning and are developed for a specific purpose. This points to two major functions of indicators. First, they reduce the number of measurements and parameters which would normally be required to give an ‘exact’ presentation of a situation. Second, they simplify the communication process by which the results of measurements are provided to the user. The air quality indicator should be a parameter or a value derived from parameters which provides information about the state of the environment. It should give a general picture, and be easy to interpret. It should...

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