What Is The CAFE Directive?

What Is The CAFE Directive?

Clean air is very important to our health, vegetation, ecosystems, and the environment. However, air pollution is a constant problem that is caused by the emission of pollutants into the atmosphere. Since the industrial revolution, the quality of air has significantly declined, primarily caused by human activities. There are many sources of air pollution, including energy production, fossil fuel consumption, traffic on the roads, and various industrial processes.

In order to protect our health and the environment, the European Union set a policy to develop and improve air quality throughout Europe, known as the ‘Clean Air For Europe’ (CAFE) Directive.

About The Clean Air For Europe Directive

The Clean Air For Europe Directive 2008/50/EC is a legislation that was published in May 2008 by the EU in order to improve the quality of air in Europe and limit exposure to air pollution. These rules include how we should monitor, assess, and manage the ambient air quality.

The CAFE Directive aims to:

  • Establish objectives for ambient air quality in order to reduce, prevent, and avoid harmful effects on our health and on the environment.
  • Gather information on air quality to help reduce air pollution and monitor long-term trends and improvements.
  • Ensure that information about ambient air quality is available to the public.
  • Improving the air quality where needed and maintaining the air quality.
  • Increase cooperation between the Member States in reducing air pollution.

Overall, the main objective of the CAFE Directive is to reduce human and environmental exposure to air pollutants and ensure that the limits of values and thresholds are not exceeded.

How Does The CAFE Directive Affect You?

In the UK, there are four main pollutants that are thought to have the biggest impact on the environment and health due to exposure, namely nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter (PM10 & PM2.5), ozone (O3), and volatile organic compounds (VOC).

There is evidence that suggests these air pollutants may have a considerable effect on our health and on the environment. According to the Office for National Statistics, chronic exposure to particulate matter (PM10 /PM2.5) can contribute to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. In addition, ozone gases can damage wild plants, crops, and forests, and higher levels of ground-level ozone could cause breathing problems.

In efforts to reduce and minimise specific air pollutants, the EU directive has set value and threshold limits. The directive specifically set limits on nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxide (collectively known as NOx), particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide, and volatile organic compounds.

These are the current value limits (at the time of writing) of the air pollutants as stated above:

  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) has a 1-hour limit value of 200 µg/m-3 and an annual mean limit value of 40 µg/m-3.
  • Nitric Oxide + Nitrogen Dioxide (NOx) has a calendar-year limit value of 50 µg/m-3.
  • Particulate Matter 10 (PM10) has a 24-hour limit value of 50 µg/m-3.
  • Particulate Matter 2.5 Stage 1 (PM2.5) has a calendar-year limit value of 40 µg/m-3.
  • Particulate Matter 2.5 Stage 2 (PM2.5) has a calendar-year limit value of 20 µg/m-3.
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) has an 8-hour limit value of 10,000 µg/m-3.
  • Sulphur Dioxide has a 1-hour limit value of 350 µg/m-3.

For more information about NOx, please visit our ‘What Is NOx?’ article here.

The Impact of this Legislation on the UK Construction Industry and Inner City Residential, Commercial and the Educational Schemes

The CAFE Directive had set very strict levels for air quality management and this legislation significantly impacts those that work on inner-city residential, commercial, educational buildings and student accommodation schemes, such as developers, planners, and mechanical consultants.

Many development projects could affect the quality of the air and where appropriate, air quality assessments may be needed in order to keep pollution to a minimum. For building developers, planners, and consulting engineers, this legislation dictates the level of nitrogen dioxide and other air pollutants permitted within the indoor air of buildings.

If the levels of air pollution from these contaminants exceed those permitted by the EU CAFE Directive, then steps must be taken to reduce these levels in order to comply with the legislation and to improve indoor air quality. Planners must then provide evidence that the air within their buildings does not exceed the limit values specified by the CAFE Directive.

How Can You Reduce Indoor Air Pollution?

In areas where high levels of these air pollutants are found in ambient air, measures must be put in place to prevent the threshold for each pollutant from being exceeded within the building. This can be done by installing an air filtration system that includes high-performance filters that deliver long-term nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide mitigation to improve indoor air quality.

At AAC Eurovent, we offer a comprehensive range of filters that are specifically designed to remove NO and NO2 from indoor air. These high-performance filters are based on the independently tested AAC NITROSORB, a proven NO and NO2 mitigation solution that delivers measurable reductions in nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and other common indoor air pollutants. Our NOx filtration systems can be further enhanced by the installation of PM2.5 and PM10 to address any issues regarding the particulate matter aspect of the legislation.

Our indoor air filters are widely recommended by Air Quality Consultants and are routinely specified by mechanical consultants for inner-city construction schemes where indoor air quality is an issue.


Our dedicated team would love to hear from you – whether you want to ask us about our products, or discuss a bespoke need, feel free to get in touch.

Contact AAC Eurovent for High Performance NO2 Filter Systems

If you require an air filtration solution that complies with the CAFE Directive and delivers effective, measurable and reliable NO2 reduction for your residential, commercial, or educational schemes, including student accommodation buildings, then AAC Eurovent can help. We offer a complete range of standard NO2 filters and offer a free design and manufacturing service for bespoke projects that require an effective solution for the reduction of air pollution levels within buildings.

What is activated carbon?

Activated carbon is a component found all around us, but if you didn’t know it was there you could probably go your entire life blissfully unaware of its existence. It performs a key role in purifying liquids and gases, from drinking water to pollution control, and at AAC Eurovent we use activated carbon in our odour control and air filtration systems. But what exactly is activated carbon, how do we get it and where is it used? Here’s everything you need to know about activated carbon.

Higher Air Pollution Triggers Cardiac Arrests & Hospitalisations

A recent study released by the King’s College London and UK100 analyses air pollution data from nine major cities in the UK, namely, London, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, and Southampton. This research is due to be published next month and it analyses air pollution and the impacts it has on public health across nine different cities in the UK.

How The Spread of COVID-19 May Correlate with Air Pollution

New studies show that there may be a link between higher amounts of air pollution and a wider rate of spread of the coronavirus. In a preliminary study, Italian scientists had detected the coronavirus on particles of air pollution which could suggest that the virus could be carried over some distances. However, this study is preliminary and it is still unknown if the coronavirus is able to cause disease through particulate matter.

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