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Air quality indicator for sustainable development 2011 - Provisional Results

News published: 09/02/2012

The provisional air quality indicators for 2011 are now available. These statistics provide an indication of UK levels of pollution from particulate matter (PM10) and ozone (O3), the two pollutants thought to have the greatest health impacts. They also include the number of days on which levels of any one of five pollutants were "moderate" or higher, according to the Air Quality Index.

The results presented are provisional, but provide an early indication of the final results which will be published in April. The headline results are detailed below. The full Defra Statistical Release is available for download.

  • Urban background particulate pollution has shown long-term improvement but changed little in the past four years: the mean PM10 concentration in 2011 was 20 µg m-3 (microgrammes per cubic metre).
  • Roadside particulate pollution has shown long-term improvement but changed little in the past four years: the mean PM10 concentration in 2011 was 23 µg m-3.
  • Urban background ozone pollution has shown a long-term increase since this statistic was first reported in 1987: the mean concentration in 2011 was 58 µg m-3.
  • Rural background ozone pollution has shown no clear long-term trend, and has changed little recently. The mean concentration was 68 µg m-3 in 2011: this statistic has fluctuated between 67 and 70 µg m-3 over the past five years.
  • Days of moderate or higher air pollution in urban areas have shown a long term improvement but increased in 2011 compared to 2010. The average number of days per site with moderate or higher pollution in 2011 was 17, compared to 8 days per site in 2010 which was the lowest recorded.
  • Days of moderate or higher air pollution for rural areas have shown no clear trend but increased in 2011 compared to 2010. The average number of "moderate or higher" pollution days per site was 29 days in 2011, compared to 21 days in 2010.

The 2011 air quality indicators have been calculated on the basis of the Air Quality Index bandings in use during 2011. The Air Quality Index was updated at the beginning of 2012, and the indicators for 2012 will be calculated using the new bandings. For more information on this change please see the relevant news item at http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/news?view=159.

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