Air quality info made more accessible

A website which tracks air pollution in the UK has been updated to improve navigation and make the information easier to understand.

The National Air Quality Information Archive is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in airborne pollutants but, in the past, the data has been presented in a way which has made it hard to for a casual user to wade through the dense material.

Second only in size to NASA’s air quality archive, the database contains a huge quantity of information on air quality in the UK, from historic pollution levels in the 1960s to the latest hours’ readings from monitoring stations all over the country.

The re-launched site includes the latest annual reports for UK air pollution, based on readings from 2005.

It also contains information on the following areas:

  • current UK and European efforts to tackle air pollution. These both progressed significantly during 2005 and the archive seeks to identify and discuss the major developments.

  • current UK air monitoring networks, their objectives and methodologies. Major changes to these programmes, in particular the national smoke/sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide diffusion tube networks, are considered.

  • Review of current UK Air Quality Objectives and examines how and where these were exceeded during the year. The archive also identifies exceedences of the UK Air Quality Strategy daily objective for PM10 particles at a number of near-road locations.

  • Investigates how pollution levels vary across the country. The archive goes further than in previous years in examining these important national-scale patterns of pollution.

  • Examines major periods of elevated pollution (so called pollution

    ‘episodes’) that occurred during 2005. This year, it examines a summer photochemical smog event, together with air quality impacts from the Buncefield fires.

  • Assesses long-term trends in order to identify how pollution levels in the atmosphere have changed over time. This year, it examines for the first time both past and projected future changes in UK’s pollution climate.

  • Examines social aspects of air pollution in the UK. Again, this is a first for these annual reports.

  • Identifies published, web and media sources for information on the UK’s air quality. In particular, it provides details of new national air quality archives and websites for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • Provides detailed statistical summary tables for each measured pollutant

    In addition to the website an Air Quality Freephone Helpline (0800 556677) is also available to obtain information on current and forecast air quality in a particular local area.

    Sam Bond

  • Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie