Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Clean Up Your Air

Hello My Friends,

Another press release from Delightful Defra - this time its Ben Bradshaw's turn:

Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs
Tuesday 23 January 2007 16:23

Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (National)

Greater action needed to deliver cleaner air

More needs to done at local, national and European level if cleaner air is to be achieved, Local Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw said today.

Mr Bradshaw was responding to the latest Government statistics on air quality which were published today. He said:

"The latest air pollution data show mixed results, in part due to the heatwave that Europe experienced last July, which helped to produce high levels of ozone. Such heatwaves are predicted to become more common because of climate change."

"Overall, the air we breathe is cleaner today than at any time since before the industrial revolution."

"But nitrogen dioxide and particulates continue to be a problem in specific locations - usually associated with traffic emissions"

Other preliminary results show that the UK is continuing to meet its national air quality objectives for 1,3 butadiene, benzene and lead, as set out in the Air Quality Strategy.

However, preliminary results show that the nitrogen dioxide and particles objectives have not been met at a number of locations across the UK, particularly along busy roads and in major urban centres, primarily due to road traffic emissions.

The UK has also not met the ozone or carbon monoxide objective in some areas, although when the data is ratified and published in April, it may show that the carbon monoxide objective has been met.

Initial analysis indicates that no exceedences of sulphur dioxide (SO2) objectives were detected at national automatic monitoring sites in the UK in 2005. However, 13 local authorities have designated air quality management areas for SO2 and they are working to improve local air quality in their areas.

Today, Defra is also publishing an 'Ozone pollution episode report (June amd July 2006)' which is available on the National Air Quality Information Archive at


1. The Air Quality Sustainable Development Indicator is one of 68 indicators supporting the Sustainable Development Strategy. It measures annual levels of particulates (PM10) and ozone - the pollutants thought to have the biggest impact on human health - as well as the average number of days when pollution is "moderate" or "higher" according to the bandings used in Weather Forecasts.
See the Statistical Release published today at:

2. The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (2000) and its Addendum (2003) set a number of air quality objectives for nine main air pollutants to be achieved from 2003-2010 and beyond - please see links below to Air Quality Strategy and Addendum (the national air quality objectives are either similar or tighter than the EU limit values/targets in the EU Air Quality Daughter Directives.)


4. The Government is currently undertaking a review of the Air Quality Strategy to identify potential new additional measures to move closer to meeting the air quality objectives. See papers on the Defra website at:

Local Air Quality Management
Under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 local authorities are required to review and assess the current, and likely future, air quality in their areas, against the Government's objectives in the national Air Quality Strategy for seven of the air pollutants. Where local authorities find that one or more of the nationally prescribed air quality objectives for each of the seven pollutants is unlikely to be met by the relevant deadline, they must declare an air quality management area (AQMA) for the area concerned. The authorities must then take action, along with other agencies and organisations, to work towards meeting the air quality objectives.

At present, around 200 local authorities across the UK have declared air quality management areas (AQMAs), mainly in respect of the objectives for Nitrogen Dioxide and/or Particles (PM10). The Act does not set deadlines for completion of most of the key stages of the local air quality management process; however Defra guidance to local authorities includes recommended timescales and timetables for submission of review and assessment reports and action plans

Local authorities were expected to undertake reviews and assessments of air quality every three years. The latest round of reviews and assessments started in April 2006, with the next round due in 2009.

Local authorities were encouraged to integrate their air quality action plans into the latest round of Local Transport Plans where local road transport is the primary cause of the local air pollution. This should help to improve authorities' capacity to deliver cleaner air and ensure that air quality is dealt with in a more corporate way, especially in two-tier authority areas where county councils deal with transport functions and the district authorities handle air quality functions. Final Local Transport Plans and assessments were issued to local authorities by DfT in December 2006.

Clean Air for Europe
The European Commission has proposed a new Air Quality Directive which will, if agreed, streamline the Air Quality Framework Directive (96/62/EC) and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd 'Daughter' Directives (1999/30/EC, 2000/69/EC, 2002/3/EC). The proposed Directive is currently under negotiation in Brussels.

For more information about air quality and action individuals can take to reduce pollution, go to:

Ozone Pollution Episode Report (June and July 2006)
This is the most recent in a series of reports for Defra and the Devolved Administrations that describe major UK air pollution episodes. These are published on the National Air Quality Information Archive ( The report describes the extent and main causes of the June and July smogs.

The main conclusions of the report were:
HIGH levels of air pollution were measured across the Automatic Urban and Rural Network (AURN) during June and July 2006. During this period, HIGH ozone levels were measured at 60 AURN stations.

July's heatwave across Europe resulted in elevated ozone levels in the UK, primarily in England and Wales. The AURN recorded ozone levels in Defra index 8 HIGH band (240-299ugm-3) at three stations: Wicken Fen, London Haringey and Blackpool Marton. The highest hourly concentration was measured at 278 ugm-3 (index 8) at 18.00 on 19 July at Wicken Fen.

The 3rd Daughter Directive (Directive 2002/3/EC) on ozone in ambient air established an alert threshold of 240 ugm-3 was exceeded at Wicken Fen on 19 July when 8 consecutive hours were measured above 240 ugm-3.

High ozone levels resulted from high temperatures across England and Wales, coupled with recirculation of air masses over Europe and the UK. High ozone levels were measured across national and local air quality networks as well as across continental Europe.

Elevated levels of PM10 were also measured in June-July, together with elevated SO2 levels in July; these were mostly in London and South East England. These elevated levels of SO2 may be the result of increased power generation during the heatwave, possibly coupled with meteorological conditions associated with the heatwave.

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I have to say the one thing that I notice is exhaust fumes when Ruth is running me wragged through the wilds of Bamber Bridge we often run past queueing traffic near the Hospitality Inn off the road where Ruth lives. Its strange because I never really noticed it so much before road running - possibly because by the time we reach that stretch of the run I'm gasping for breath!

However on a more serious note I feel strongly about this issue especially when it effects children (and adults) who suffer from asthma or CF or other respiratory related illnesses. We do need to promote cleaner air for everyone.

On the news this morning I balked at the sight of GW Bush talking about climate change - the man denied this existed 12 months ago! Oooo he has committed to reduce petrol consumption by 1/5th by 2010 - big deal George. GW also mentioned investing in new renewable technologies but its more of a token gesture than a policy with any bite?

GW has no comment or commitment to cut CO2 emissions.

America needs to take on the oil companies and the auto industry first and foremost - and with his family's connections and source of great wealth (have any of you seen the Michael Mann film?) GW is hardly going to start to rock any boats there!

However perhaps now that there is a democratic majority in Congress we may start to experience a sea change in US Environmental policy - bet Al Gore has something to say about GW's speech!

Lets hope that the WEO conference in Davos - a 5-day intellectual spa for companies to discuss global warming, climate change, manufacturing challenges, business structures and how business plays its role in society.

Climate change is a huge business issue with a lot of pressure on large companies to sort out this problem. BT's Chief Executive Ben Verwaayen commented that the conference enables large businesses to look at how they can create a positive influence on the communities with whom they interact.

" I want to come back from this event with a list to do. This is not about talking, its about doing"
Ben Verwaayen told BBC Breakfast's Declan.

I hope that all the attendees are as positive and enthusiastic as BT's Ben?

Make Good Choices People

From Your Friend The Energy Angel


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