With the latest developments of the European Air Quality Directives, the importance of the National Air Quality Reference Laboratories has grown significantly. Their activity had long been acknowledged and their role has now been formally established: they are legally responsible for the quality assurance of air pollutant measurements in their respective Member States, which implies the organisation of national quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) programmes and the participation in European QA/QC programmes. In addition, they may be actively involved in standardisation activities, the validation of measurement methods and the type approval of instruments.
A meeting of the Laboratories held in December 2001 in Ispra showed that there was strong agreement on the setting up of a formal network, with the objectives
- to provide expert judgement,
- to promote the harmonisation of air quality measurements among EU, EFTA and Candidate Countries,
- to coordinate QA/QC activities, method development and validation,
- to participate in standardisation activities,
- to develop common research projects and pilot studies, and
- to offer a forum for information exchange in form of training courses, workshops and conferences.
The creation of the network was formally agreed by the participating institutions a year later, in 2002.
Meanwhile the AQUILA Network is a well established Network involved in the implementation of existing EU air policy and advising on new developments.
Meetings are dedicated to special topics such as particles measurement, accreditation or quality assurance, but also provide regular
opportunities to update the participants on new technical, scientific and legislative developments in the field of air quality.