Good air quality is essential for our health, quality of life and the environment. Air becomes polluted when it contains substances which can have a harmful effect on the health of people, animals and vegetation. The main causes of air pollution include transport, domestic combustion and industrial processes.
Under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 every local authority is required to regularly review and assess the air quality in its area to determine whether the National Air Quality Objectives which are set by the Government are being met. The Council is required to designate an air quality management area (AQMA) where air quality objectives are exceeded.
Currently Selby District Council monitors Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels.
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) is one of a group of highly reactive gases known as oxides of nitrogen or nitrogen oxides (NOx). Other nitrogen oxides include nitrous acid and nitric acid. NO2 is used as the indicator for the larger group of nitrogen oxides.
NO2 primarily gets in the air from the burning of fuel and most commonly forms from emissions from vehicles such as cars, heavy good vehicles (HGV’s) and buses.
Breathing air with a high concentration of NO2 can irritate airways in the human respiratory system. Long exposures to elevated concentrations of NO2 may contribute to the development of asthma and potentially increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. People with asthma, as well as children and the elderly are also generally at greater risk for the health effects of NO2.
How are NO2 levels monitored?
NO2 is monitored throughout the district using the diffusion tube. Diffusion tubes are installed in locations for four-week periods and sent for laboratory analysis. Results are received for the exposure period and collated to provide an annual result. All monitoring results are uploaded to the DEFRA data centre and can be found here.
NO2 is also monitored by automatic monitoring stations which measure multiple pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5). Currently there are no automatic monitoring stations located within Selby District, with the nearest being York, Leeds and Doncaster. Data from these stations can be found here.
Annual Review and Assessment
Air quality monitoring is an ongoing process throughout the district and we report progress annually to DEFRA. Annual reporting allows for data and progress to be reviewed and analysed and highlights where further focus and investigation may be required. Where a specific geographical area is highlighted within a report which requires specific investigation, a Detailed Assessment report is produced.
Links to reports can be found below:
If you would like any further information on local air quality monitoring please email: AQMA@selby.gov.uk