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Air Pollution Control Act

The Air Pollution Control Act is the central law for keeping the air clean, for air pollution control in Austria as well as for the implementation of relevant EU Directives.

The Air Pollution Control Act (in German: Immissionsschutzgesetz-Luft IG-L) serves the

  • permanent protection of human health and the environment against air pollutants
  • the preventive reduction of air pollutants as well as
  • the preservation of good air quality and/or the improvement of air quality

On the basis of the Air Pollution Control Act an Austria-wide measuring network for air pollutants is operated and exceedances of limit or target values are identified.

For the protection of human health standardized air pollution threshold values have been laid down at federal level for the air pollutants CO, NOx, SO2, lead, benzene, and suspended particulate matter. as well as particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and benzoapyrene in the Air Pollution Act (IG-L); for SO2 and NO2 alert values are laid down as well; for particulate matter and NOx target values are laid down in addition to that, furthermore target values for arsenic, cadmium, and nickel, for particulate matter PM2.5 in addition to the threshold and target values an obligation and a goal have been introduced, in order to reduce the average exposure of the population to particulate matter (AEI).

If a threshold or target value is exceeded, the Provincial Governor has to carry out an identification of the status quo, where the air pollution situation and the meteorological conditions are precisely depicted and the potential polluters are identified (analysis of the causes and the sources of emissions).

In principle the Provincial Governor has to work out a programme in case of the exceedance of threshold or target values after an identification of the status quo has been carried out, in order to determine measures to be carried out in a defined “redevelopment area”. These measures shall aim at reducing the emissions, which have resulted in the exceedance of an air pollution threshold value, in order to ensure that the threshold values of the Air Pollution Act and of the EU are complied with. If required, the measures have to be stipulated by an Ordinance of the Federal Governor, which has already happened in all Federal Provinces, in most cases even several times.

Examples of potential measures:

  • Plants: Imperative of the use of low-emission fuels, restrictions and/or prohibitions of machines with high specific emissions
  • Motor vehicles: Temporal and spatial restrictions of traffic (e.g.  Ban on night journeys for heavy goods vehicles, driving ban graduated according to the exhaust gas classes of the vehicles – “environmental zone”); speed limits
  • Chemicals and products: Restrictions of the use of certain substances

The Air Pollution Control Act provides also for special requirements according to Air Pollution Control Act for receiving permits for stationary plants, for the new construction of roads, in particular in areas where the threshold values are exceeded. 

The following ordinances on the basis of the Air Pollution Control Act exist:

  • Air Pollution Control Act Measuring Concept Ordinance 2012 (IG-L Messkonzeptverordnung 2012)
  • Ordinance on the air pollution threshold values and air pollution target values for the protection of the ecosystems and the vegetation (Verordnung über Immissionsgrenzwerte und Immissionszielwerte zum Schutz der Ökosysteme und der Vegetation)
  • Ordinance on the Action Plan on the Air Pollution Control Act (Verordnung über den Aktionsplan zum IG-L)
  • Emission Cadastre Ordinance (Emissionskatasterverordnung)
  • Ordinance on the definition of general criteria of traffic control systems according to the Air Pollution Control Act (Verordnung über die Festlegung allgemeiner Kriterien für Verkehrsbeeinflussungssysteme gemäß IG-L)
  • Air Pollution Control Act Ordinance on the Identification of Exhaust Gas Classes (IH-L Abgasklassen-Kennzeichnungsverordnung)
  • Ordinance on the evaluation where an exceedance of the PM10 threshold value is due to the resuspension of particles after the application of road salt or grit (Air Pollution Control Act - Ordinance on Winter Road Maintenance) (Verordnung über die Beurteilung, ob eine PM10 Grenzwertüberschreitung auf Aufwirbelung von Partikeln nach Ausbringung von Streusalz oder Streusplit zurückzuführen ist – IG-L Winterstreuverordnng)
  • Air Pollution Control Act Identification Ordinance (IG-L Kennzeichnungsverordnung)

According to Section 23 Air Pollution Control Act the Environment Minister has to submit to the National Council every three years a written report on the state, the development, and the predictions for air pollutants; the state, the development and the predictions for emissions which are investigated in according to this Federal Act as well as the success of the measures taken according to this Federal Act.    

This happened the last time in June 2016.