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Air Quality Statistics in the UK, 1987 to 2016

News published: 27/04/2017

Statistical Release: 27 April 2017

The air quality statistics for 2016 are now finalised. 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 full Defra Statistical Release is available for download, highlights are as follows:

  • Urban background and roadside particulate pollution has shown long-term improvement however small increases in concentration are observed from 2015 to 2016 for roadside sites. There is some year-on-year variability with a long-term downward trend in urban background and roadside particulate pollution. For background sites the concentration of particulate pollution was similar in 2015 and 2016.
  • There were on average fewer days of Moderate or higher pollution at urban pollution monitoring sites in 2016 compared with 2015. There is an ongoing decline in days of Moderate or higher pollution at urban sites.
  • There were on average more days of Moderate or higher pollution at rural pollution monitoring sites in 2016 compared with 2015. However, there is a great deal of year-on-year variability and there is no clear long-term trend.
  • Urban background ozone pollution has remained fairly stable between 2003 and 2016, although concentrations have shown a long-term increase since monitoring began. Rural background ozone pollution has shown no clear long-term trend. Both these indicators decreased slightly from 2015 to 2016.
  • 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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