Our Senior Air Quality Consultant, James Browne, summaries the latest Air Quality news this month, including new WHO limits for particulate matter, air monitoring using public phone boxes, Sheffield’s Clean Air Zone consultation and a new interactive tool that shows how trees improve air quality.
The Environment Secretary, Michael Gove has announced that the government’s upcoming Environment Bill will enshrine the World Health Organisation’s new limits for particulate matter into UK law for the first time. In a speech delivered on July 16th, Gove admitted that the UK has ‘failed to live up to our obligations to improve air quality’. The WHO’s current safe annual mean limit for PM2.5 is 10 μg/m3. The move could help to reduce pollution-related deaths by 15%, according to WHO data.
The city of Bradford has become one of the first cities in the UK to trial air-quality monitoring technology in sophisticated public phone boxes. A collection of BT ‘InLinkUK’ street units have built-in modular sensors which work minute-by-minute to collect air quality data.
A BT data hub located in Bradford council’s health and wellbeing department receives the data, enabling air quality in the city centre to be assessed on a day-to-day basis.
Cllr Sarah Ferriby, said: "This is a great way for us to get real-time useful data from units that are already placed in the city centre."
A consultation lead by Sheffield City Council has begun this month regarding the city’s proposed class C Clean Air Zone, which is set to be launched in 2021. Under the scheme high polluting vehicles such as taxis, vans, HGVs and coaches would pay a fixed fee to enter the zone which resides within the city’s inner ring road.
As part of the consultation, the council is asking members of the public and businesses to contribute to the 'clean air conversation'. This comes after statistics revealed air pollution contributes to 500 deaths a year in Sheffield.
A new online tool has been developed by Scientists at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and the Environmental Economics Consultancy for the Environment Consultancy (EFTEC) to measure how trees improve air quality. The tool uses national data to calculate how much air pollution would be removed by planting trees in specific areas, as well as the subsequent public health savings created by cleaner air. It is hoped that the data will be made available to councils and developers to encourage them to begin their own tree planting initiatives.