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Air quality monitoring

Information on how the council monitors air quality, air quality in the local area, sources of air pollution and effects on health, pollen monitoring, controlling air pollution from businesses, and air quality assessments for planning applications.

Does the council monitor air quality?

Yes, we monitor levels of nitrogen dioxide (NOx), which is a key pollutant from vehicle exhausts.  We use a network of around 80 diffusion tubes, which are small plastic tubes that can be attached to lamposts and road signs, and are collected and changed over once a month.  The locations and results are presented in our most recent annual status reports, and are reviewed periodically.

In addition to the NOx tube surveys, we have previously used permanent monitoring stations located in Beverley, Bridlington, Goole, and Preston, to provide more detailed information on air quality in our area.  

Can I see air quality information for the local area?

Find local air pollution forecasts on the Defra website

Monitoring reports

We produce annual reports on local air quality based on our monitoring data. The following reports are available:  

2017 Air Quality Annual Status Report - DRAFT (4.4mb)

2016 Air Quality Annual Status Report (4.4mb)

Air Quality Update and Screening Assessment 2015 (1.39mb)

Diffusion Tube - Summary of NOx results 2009-2014 (75kb)

Air Quality Update and Screening Assessment 2012 (1mb) 

We published Stage 1 of the first round of review and assessment in March 1999, followed by a combined Stage 2 and 3 assessment published in April 2001.  These documents set out the origins of local air quality management in the East Riding. 

Stage 1 Air Quality Review and Assessment (776kb)

Stage 2 and 3 Air Quality Review and Assessment (2mb)

For further information about air quality monitoring, including historic data, please contact the environmental control team:

Email: pollution.control@eastriding.gov.uk

Tel: (01482) 396301 

What are the main sources of air pollution?

Many of the processes involved in industry, power generation, transportation, and domestic activities produce air pollution, as do natural events such as volcanic eruptions and decomposing organic matter.   A major contributor to air pollution in the UK is from traffic emissions, particularly in urban areas.  The following list shows key air pollutants in the UK and the estimated contribution from different sources.

  • Benzene (C6H6) - Motor vehicles account for 71 per cent of emissions. Refining, distribution and evaporation of petrol contributes 10 per cent.
  • 1:3-butadiene (C4H6) - Petrol vehicles account for 68 per cent of emissions. Industrial sources contribute 14 per cent. 
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) - Road transport accounts for 69 per cent of emissions, with non-road sources contributing 9 per cent, and domestic sources 5 per cent.  
  • Lead (Pb) - Most airborne lead in the UK has arisen from motor vehicles, however the use of unleaded petrol has caused emissions to fall significantly.  
  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) - Road transport accounts for 44 per cent of total emissions, power stations 21 per cent, and other industry 9 per cent.   
  • Particulate (PM10) - Road transport contributes 20 per cent of the total emissions, as do domestic sources, but this can be higher in urban areas.  Construction, mining and quarrying contribute 13 per cent, and power stations 10 per cent.
  • Sulphur dioxide (SO2) - Fossil-fuelled power stations account for 65 per cent of emissions. Other industry contributes 10 per cent and refineries 8 per cent.
  • Ozone (O3) - Arises from chemical reactions in the atmosphere caused by sunlight. Oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons can react to form ozone at ground level.

How might air pollution affect my health?

The quality of the air we breathe is affected when there are impurities in the air such as oxides of sulphur and nitrogen or carbon monoxide or fine particles. These can cause an irritation of the air passages resulting in increased secretions and narrowing them, which makes it difficult to get enough air into our lungs.

The most vulnerable people to air pollution are those who are already suffering from respiratory problems such as asthma, and heart disease.  It is of course advisable 
to avoid smoky environments where the air quality is obviously poor. It is also advisable to ensure adequate ventilation and protection when working in dusty conditions or with chemicals.

If you suffer from a respiratory disease it is possible that air pollution may be a contributory factor.  Your doctor will be able to advise you on that and also advise whether poor air quality is continuing to have an adverse effect.

Read more about health effects of air pollution on the Defra website

Does the council monitor pollen levels?

Yes, we monitor grass pollen levels during the grass pollen season (typically late May to early August) each year, from a monitoring location in Beverley. The results are sent to the Met Office, where they are analysed and combined with monitoring results from across the country to produce national forecasts. 

Read more about pollen forecasts on the Met Office website.

The council is also currently involved in a 3 year research project looking at the genetic make-up of grass pollen, to help better understand how it is measured and its effects on health.

For further information about pollen monitoring, including historical records, please contact the environmental control team:

Email:   pollution.control@eastriding.gov.uk 

Tel: (01482) 396301

How does the council control air pollution from businesses?

We issue environmental permits to certain types of businesses that might have an impact on air quality. The permits contain conditions that the operator has to comply with, including emission limits. We routinely inspect these businesses to make sure they are complying with the permit conditions.

Read more about Environmental Permitting.

A list of current businesses with an environmental permit from the council can be found on the Public Register.

Do I need to do an air quality assessment as part of my planning application?

Most individual planning applications are for development which is unlikely to have a significant impact on local air quality.  However some larger schemes may either be introducing new sources of air pollution, such as a new road or industry, or introducing sensitive uses in an area with poor air quality, and you are advised to seek specialist advice from an air quality consultant in these cases.

Search for an environmental consultant on the ENDS directory website.

If your planning application includes proposals for a biomass boiler or combined heat and power system, please complete and submit one of the following forms to the planning department with your application:

Planning biomass boiler information request form (116kb)

Planning combined heat and power information request form (119kb) 

National planning policy

The National Planning Policy Framework requires planning policies to comply and contribute towards achieving EU limit values or national objectives for air pollution, taking into account the presence of Air Quality Management Areas and the cumulative impacts on air quality from individual sites in local areas.

Read more about the National Planning Policy Framework on the GOV.UK website.

There is also National planning practice guidance on air quality on the GOV.UK website.

Environmental Protection UK and the Institute of Air Quality Management have also produced useful guidance on air pollution and planning, which is available on the EPUK website

Last Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2018