Air quality limits
The UK and the EU have set limits for the maximum allowed levels of different air pollutants.
Over recent decades, UK air quality has improved, and meets most statutory air quality limits, but there is more to do. The concentration of nitrogen dioxide around roads is too high, exceeding legal limits.
According to Defra modelling, the concentration of NO2 in Birmingham’s air is up to 50% higher than it should be. If we don’t take any action, we will not reach the legal limit until 2027.
The whole of Birmingham has been designated an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) under the Environment Act 1995, which means that have a duty to monitor and report on levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulates (PM10 and PM2.5) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). Where those limits are breached or will be breached, we produce an Air Quality Action Plan to bring the air quality under the limits.
Birmingham City Council has recently published a new (2021) Air Quality Action Plan. This replaces the previous 2011 version.
The latest annual status report (2016) shows that levels of PM10, PM2.5 and SO2 did not exceed allowed levels, but level of NO2 need to be reduced.
Although legal limits are being reached, the World Health Organisation has said that there is no level of particulate matter at which people’s health isn’t damaged, so we should try to get levels as close to zero as possible.