Air Quality Standards
The major air pollutants are monitored at a variety of urban and rural sites within the UK by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Pollutants monitored include nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbons (for example benzene and toluene), carbon monoxide, lead and ozone. Guidelines and standards, set either by the UK or by other international organisations, provide criteria against which UK levels of air pollutants can be compared and assessed. Currently there are six sets of standards and guidelines commonly referred to in the UK and Europe. These include:
The general public can access information on air quality in regions and cities in the UK:
- UK National Air Quality objectives;
- Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards (EPAQS) recommendations;
- UK air quality bands;
- European Community Directives Limit and Guide Values;
- World Health Organisation guidelines;
- United Nations Economic Commission for Europe critical levels.
Air quality targets for reducing pollution have been set, which local authorities in the UK have been committed to achieve over the next few years. Failure to reduce air pollution in certain areas may result in the establishment of air quality action zones.