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The Commission has launched an infringement procedure against Estonia, Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal,Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom thatreportedly do not meet the bloc's air quality standardsconcerning coarse particles known as PM10.
EU countries were sent a request for information in June 2008 and the Commission subsequently gave a firstwarning to 10 member states that had failed to bring thePM10 concentration down to the required level.
Depending on a particular country's response to the warning, the Commission may decide to send it a so-calledreasoned opinion explaining why it finds the country inviolation of EU legislation and urging it to ensureobservance of law by a set deadline which usually is twomonths.
If a member state fails to comply, the EU executive mayrefer the case to the European Court of Justice.
PM10 particles emitted by industrial enterprises, motorvehicles and household boiler houses can cause asthma,cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and premature death.
The new air quality directive that stepped into effectin June 2008 allows EU member states to apply on certainconditions for a period of grace to bring the PM10concentration into line with the norm.