Manchester City Council

Environmental problems Air quality

By law we must measure air quality for the amount of:

  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  • PM10 particulate matter
  • Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
  • Lead
  • Benzene
  • Ozone (O3)

The UK also has a target to reduce average concentrations of PM2.5 at urban background locations, see further information.

UK Air’s website has an explanation of the causes of air pollution.

These are reviewed against ‘acceptable limits’ based on their known health effects.

If we think that the levels of these pollutants is going to be higher than the acceptable limits we must make and deliver an action plan to reduce these levels to within the acceptable limits.

Currently we are within the acceptable limits for all of these pollutants except the annual concentration of nitrogen dioxide, which regularly exceeds the objective. Nitrogen dioxide levels are particularly high in the city centre and close to busy roads.

By law nitrogen dioxide levels need to be below 40 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3), on average over a year, but we regularly record much higher levels, especially during rush hour.

The impact of poor air quality on health

Every year 181 people in Manchester die because of toxic air. Toxic air affects everyone but for some it can be deadly - children, pregnant women, older people and people with medical conditions like asthma, heart attack and COPD are particularly vulnerable.

Improving air quality could help improve the health of vulnerable people in Manchester and everyone has a part to play.

Our air quality is slowly improving, but we have to act. Together we can make Manchester a better, healthier place to live.

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