Frequently Asked Questions
Which part of the United Kingdom has the best air quality?
Generally, open areas and coastal areas of the UK are cleanest as air changes more frequently. However, pollution levels depend upon a number of factors and it is not possible to identify specific places as having the best air quality. Pollution builds up in towns and cities where it can become trapped between buildings, and in prolonged, still, sunny weather in the summer and in still foggy weather in winter. It will also build up in low lying areas - ie valleys, between hills etc - so pollutant levels are dependent on topography of the area and weather conditions as well as local and regional sources.
Pollutants may also be carried long distances on prevailing winds. For example, polluted air masses from Europe sometimes contribute to high ozone levels on the south coast. Ozone levels are often higher in the countryside than towns, but the pollutants that form it are generally generated in towns - this does not mean the countryside is more polluted than towns. However, if there are significant pollution sources such as power stations these may influence local air quality. An indication of pollution levels across the UK is given on UK Ambient Air Quality Interactive Map and on the NAEI website