This study uses an improved emission inventory model to assess the uncertainties in emissions of dioxins and furans associated with both knowledge on the exact technologies and processes used, and with the uncertainties of both activity data and emission factors. The annual total emissions for the year 2000 in 13 countries in central and eastern Europe can be estimated with 90% confidence within a range that is about a factor of 2-3 lower to a factor of 3-5 higher than a point value obtained from a more classical approach. It is also shown that the contribution of small residential sources and larger industrial installations and processes are of the same order of magnitude in these countries. It is argued that, despite these uncertainties, policy options can be evaluated and policy decisions on abatement of dioxin and furan emissions can be made. Dioxins and furans belong to the persistent organic pollutants (POPs), an important group of air pollutants that can have long-term effects on ecosystems and human health. Emission estimates for these pollutants all suffer from high uncertainties. This study shows that policy conclusions can still be derived despite these high uncertainties. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.