Air quality

Manual network
Air quality data from the manual network
Automatic network
Air quality data from the automatic network

Port activity generates emissions which, together with the rest of the metropolitan area, contribute to air pollution in both port and city. According to studies by the Catalan Government and Barcelona City Council, emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter with a diameter of less than 10µm produced within the port by incoming vehicles, by civil engineering works for enlargement and maintenance of infrastructure, by vessels and by terminal machinery used in port operations, represent between 15 and 20% of total emissions of the Barcelona metropolitan area.

But contribution of port emissions to the city's pollution levels is proportionally lower, less than 10%, since half of those emissions is dispersed to the sea.

The Port monitors the air quality of the port area measuring the concentrations of contaminants in the ambient air using a network of high-volume samplers for particulate matter and a network of automatic analysers for gaseous air pollutants.

Manual network

The Manual Network consists of eight high-volume samplers for particulate matter, five of which are equipped with a PM10 inlet for particles with an equivalent diameter of less than 10µm and three have a PM2,5 inlet for particles with a diameter less than 2.5µm. The Port also manages two high-volume samplers for total suspended particles (TSP) used exclusively to determine the concentrations of soya bean allergen.

The Port Vell PM10 sampler is type-approved within the Catalonia Air Pollution Monitoring and Forecast Network (the XVPCA) managed by the Catalan Government and its measurements are used to officially assess air quality in the city of Barcelona.

The map below shows the locations of the different high volume samplers.

Air quality data from the manual network

PM air quality has improved a lot at the port in the recent years and nowadays PM levels are below limit values for urban areas at all stations.

The following graph shows the evolution of the PM10 measurements at the port since the begining of samplings up today. As can be seen, there is a gradual decrease of PM10 levels that stay below limit value since 2013. It also stands out that at Dic Sud station wich was monitoring the civil works for the southern expansion of the port to south, the high PM10 measured levels decreased dramatically since 2008, coinciding with the progressive completion of works.

In the graph Port Vell station data serial is also highlighted. We must point out that this station is integrated in the catalan air quality network XVPCA, and that since 2008 its PM10 levels are below the limit value for urban areas.

For PM2,5 the evolution of measurements is similar to PM10 and today all port stations show levels below the limit value for urban areas.

Automatic network

The Automatic Network comprises three different stations equipped with automatic analysers for gaseous air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3) and benzene (C6H6). Two of these are fixed stations, ZAL 2 Prat measuring only NO2 and Darsena Sud measuring only SO2, and the third one is the Port of Barcelona's Mobile Unit, nowadays located at Port Vell, wich measures all pollutants listed before

These three stations provide measurements that should be considered merely indicative of the quality of air in relation to legal limits, since their location in a highly industrial environment that does not meet the strict microimplantation criteria required for the assessment of air quality to protect human health in urban areas. However, the data they provide are useful for assessing the evolution over time of the impact on the atmosphere of the activity inside and outside the port area and of the port infrastructure building works and are therefore of great interest to the Port.

Click on the points shown on the map below to see the equipment at each station.

Air quality data from the automatic network

The information provided by the automatic network stations allows to visualize the relative evolution of the levels of the different air pollutants measured in the port.

It should be remembered that the values are indicative of air quality in the port, since they do not meet the microimplantation criteria required for their sites.

The following graphs show the evolution of the annual mean levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the recent years. 

The reduction in SO2 observed is the result of the closing in 2009 of an industrial sulphur processing plant outside the port that was located near the monitoring station and the entry into force in 2010 of the obligation for ships to use low sulphur content fuel while at berth in port.



NO2 data from ZAL 2 Prat for the last 2 years show levels below limit value for urban areas. Due to the fact that this data serie is short, we also show data measured by Unitat Mobil at locations in Moll energia during the preceding years (2007-2011), althoug they are indicatives.

Nitrogen dioxide is produced mainly by road traffic of trucks and light vehicles and therefore levels only vary slightly. The decrease observed in 2008 at Unitat Mobil-Moll Energia can be attributed to the reduction in the number of vehicles that accessed the port due to the decrease of freight traffic, although this gradually recovered in subsequent years with a slight increase in levels of NO2.