Northumberland air pollution hits ten-year low

Air pollution in Northumberland has fallen to its lowest level in a decade, new figures reveal.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 10:38 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 12:59 am
Air quality has improved

Climate campaigners say the improvement in air quality has been helped by investment in cycling, walking and the transition to zero-emission cars but want the Government to impose stricter limits on fine particles in the air (PM2.5), which come mainly from the burning of oil, gas and diesel.

Figures from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show the average concentration of PM2.5 pollution particles in the area was 5.7 micrograms per cubic metre in 2019 – below the UK limit of 25, and the World Health Organisation guideline limit of 10.

That was down from six micrograms in 2018 – and the lowest level since 2010, when it was 8.3.

Separate NHS figures estimate 3.1% of deaths in Northumberland were associated with long-term exposure to PM2.5 – down from 3.3% the year before.

Dr Yannish Naik, director of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change welcomed the reduction in pollution in some areas, but wants the Government to bring in lower limits on PM2.5.

He said: "The Government has taken some positive steps to reduce fine particulate pollution, including accelerating the transition to zero-emissions vehicles, and increasing investment in cycling and walking.

"However, UK limits for PM2.5 are still more than double the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and air pollution contributes to around 40,000 deaths a year.”

A Defra spokesperson said: "We know there is more to do as we build back greener from the coronavirus pandemic.”