These microparticles – PM2.5 – have not been regulated until now.
European countries will be required to reduce exposure levels in urban areas to PM2.5 by an average of 20% by 2020 based on 2010 levels.
The agreement also obliges EU countries to bring exposure levels below 20 micrograms/m3 by 2015 in urban areas.
MEPs also agreed that European Union countries must reduce the emissions associated with refuelling of petrol cars at service stations, and to address the sulphur content of fuels.
The European Commission welcomed the move. Environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “Air pollution causes major problems for the environment and the health of European citizens.
“Therefore, I am pleased that the agreement reached on air quality addresses this problem and provides ambitious, but realistic and timely standards for fine particle PM2.5 pollution in the European Union.”