UK reports slight drop in polluting gases

Statistics published by Defra show that levels of several key pollutants have dropped slightly - and that industry, power generation, agriculture and road transport remain the main sources.

The at-a-glance reading of the results from the 2007 National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) shows a reduction in emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and ammonia, all significant pollutants in the UK.

The amount by which they have fallen between 2006 and 2007 varies from gas to gas, but ranges from two per cent for the volatile organic compounds to a more impressive 12% for sulphur dioxide.

The fall marks a continued trend in successfully reducing these gases in the UK.

Between them the gases are responsible for a multitude of environmental sins, from the acidification and eutriphication of water courses to creating ground-level ozone which can cause widespread damage crops and human health.

The gases are being produced by the usual suspects.

Power plants and heavy industry remain the primary source of sulphur dioxide while traffic made the biggest individual contribution to NOx levels.

Agriculture was responsible for over 90% of the UK’s ammonia emissions and solvents, together with fossil fuel extraction and distribution, were responsible for the majority of NMVOC releases.

Sam Bond

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