Its report Air Pollution in Wales shows an overall decrease in the number of days where air pollution was moderate or higher in urban areas between 1997 and 2006.

However, the figures revealed that pollution levels have fluctuated year on year, with significant peaks in 2003 and 2006, which the forum’s experts have attributed to the hot summers in those years.

The report also reveals that levels of rural pollution have consistently outstripped urban pollution.

Jane Davidson, the Welsh Assembly’s environment minister, welcomed the report, which also revealed hotspots for a number of pollutants such as PM10s and nitrogen dioxide.

She said: “Air quality is an issue that affects each and every one of us and both this report and the forum’s website mean that people can find out about the substantial work being undertaken in Wales to tackle air pollution.

“The report updates us on the progress towards the Air Quality Strategy, which is our blueprint for monitoring levels of emissions and limiting these where appropriate.

“The work of local authorities in designating and implementing Air Quality Management Areas is important in achieving these improvements in urban areas.”

However, she admitted that there is still a lot of work to be done to tackle air pollution in Wales.

She said: “This report demonstrates progress in our Air Quality Strategy, but there is still much to be done and increased traffic continues to be a major cause of pollution.

“This highlights the need for us all to think carefully about how we travel and choose more sustainable transport wherever we can.”

The assembly’s sustainability committee is currently carrying out an inquiry into carbon reduction in Wales and met on Thursday to begin hearing evidence.

Kate Martin

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