Air pollution can have significant effects on health and the environment.  For this reason, local councils have legal responsibilities for assessing and working towards improving air quality in their areas. This enables us to meet stringent health based objectives set by the Government.  

The Government has set standards for air quality known as the National Air Quality Objectives. These relate to seven specified pollutants:

  • Benzene
  • 1,3 Butadiene
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Lead
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Particles (PM10)
  • Sulphur dioxide 

For current national air pollutant levels visit  The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs UK-AIR.

All local authorities monitor local air quality and must produce annual reports and updates

Various types of monitoring equipment is used to gather this information, such as diffusion tubes and continuous monitoring stations that measure pollutants every 15 minutes.

Sunderland has two Automatic Urban Rural Network sites, which are part of a national network of analysers, these are located at Silksworth  and Wessington Way.

The Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG) provides independent scientific advice on air quality to Defra, in particular the air pollutants contained in the Air Quality Strategy (AQS) for the UK and those covered by the EU Directives on Ambient Air Quality

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