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Air quality indicator for sustainable development 2011 - Final Results

News published: 11/05/2012

The final 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 a set of five pollutants were "moderate" or higher, according to the Air Quality Index.

The results shown are final and provide an update of the provisional results published on 2 February 2012, following the full quality assurance process. Overall, the results have changed very little from the provisional ones, with the exception that the average number of days of moderate or higher pollution at urban sites decreased from 17 to 16 owing to fewer ozone and particulate pollution days being determined in the final results. The full Defra Statistical Release is available for download (note: updated in 2016).

  • Urban background particulate pollution has shown long-term improvement but changed little recently: average concentrations declined from 35 micrograms per cubic metre (µg m-3)  in 1992 to 20 µg m-3  in 2011.  They changed little in the past four years.
  • Roadside particulate pollution has shown long-term improvement but changed little in the past four years: the mean PM10 concentration in 2011 was 22 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 16.
  • 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 30 days in 2011.

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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