Air Quality Statistics in the UK, 1987 to 2012

News published: 26/04/2013

Statistical Release: 25 April 2013

Most recent finalised statistics up to and including 2012 are now available. These statistics firstly provide an indication of long-term trends in 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 UK Daily Air Quality Index (DAQI).

The 2012 air quality indicator for number of days "moderate" or higher has been calculated on the basis of a recent update to the DAQI. For more information on these changes please see the separate news item at

The full Defra Statistical Release is available for download, highlights are as follows:

  • Urban background and roadside particulate pollution has shown long-term improvement but remained stable since 2008.
  • Urban background ozone pollution has shown a long-term increase while rural background ozone pollution has shown no clear long-term trend and changed little recently.
  • There were on average fewer days of moderate or higher pollution at both urban and rural pollution monitoring sites in 2012 compared with 2011. However, there is a great deal of year-on-year variability and there is no clear long-term trend.
  • The main drivers of the average number of days when air pollution is "moderate" or higher are particulate matter and ozone, for urban and rural pollution monitoring sites in the UK respectively.

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