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European Reference Laboratory for Air Pollution

The European Reference Laboratory for Air Pollution (ERLAP) is giving scientific and technical support to the implementation of air quality policy regarding measurements of air pollution.

It deals with the organisation of quality assurance programmes for the member states laboratories and develops and validates innovative measurement techniques.

The need to refer to an independent laboratory on questions of air pollution monitoring led to the creation of the JRC's ERLAP in 1994.

The laboratory is now the Commission’s body responsible for organizing European quality assurance programmes for air pollution measurements.

ERLAP contributes to the development and correct implementation of Air Quality Directives in Europe in collaboration with the AQUILA Network and the Member States.

The highly specialised laboratory works on the harmonisation and standardisation of measurement techniques, carries out measurement campaigns in areas of particular interest, analyses the chemical composition of toxic and carcinogenic compounds in air pollution and develops reference and equivalent measurement methods to provide support to the implementation and development of European Commission’s air quality policy.

Picture of Performance testing of gas measurements
©EU 2016

ERLAP organises inter-laboratory comparisons (ILC) several times a year, based on artificial or ambient test samples.

The range of atmospheric pollutants covered comprehends inorganic gases (SO2, NO, CO, O3), VOCs (incl. BTEX), POPS, HM, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and some of their constituents (e.g. main ions, organic and elemental carbon).

ERLAP offers physical access (participants come and measure on-line) and remote access (participants receive test samples at home) to its ILC facilities. Results are processed according to EN/ISO guides.

Photo of an inter-comparison exercise at the JRC's ERLAP facility
An inter-comparison exercise at the JRC's ERLAP facility


These ILCs are part of quality assurance programmes carried out in collaboration with the AQUILA Network, the WHO Collaborating Centre for Air Quality Management and Air Pollution Control, in the context of international monitoring programmes such as the Geneva Protocol on Long-term Financing of the Cooperative Programme for Monitoring and Evaluation of the Long-range Transmission of Air Pollutants in Europe (EMEP), and under research infrastructure projects like the ACTRIS project.

The Member States' National Air Quality Reference Laboratories regularly participate to these ILCs (or QA programmes).