Frequently asked questions and how to find out more about air quality

How is the air quality in Salford?

The majority of Salford generally experiences air quality that meets national objectives. However in areas close to busy roads and near Manchester city centre, air quality does not meet the nitrogen dioxide annual mean national air quality objective. Road traffic exhaust fumes are the main cause of these raised nitrogen dioxide levels, leading to the declaration of an Air Quality Management Area.

Is Salford the only place to have an Air Quality Management Area?

No. Across the UK, over 250 UK local authorities have declared Air Quality Management Areas. The vast majority of these are for potential exceedances of the annual mean nitrogen dioxide national air quality objective, as a result of emissions from road traffic sources.

How does air pollution affect health?

Exposure to air pollution can be irritating to your eyes, nose and throat. Regular long term exposure can lead to a number of health problems including lung and heart disease, strokes and asthma. It has the most impact on people who are more vulnerable in society such those with a pre-existing health conditions, children and the elderly. However, the exact risk is difficult to quantify and more research is needed. The true exposure of individuals in Salford will also depend on other factors – such as exposure to indoor pollutants (at home), the quality of indoor ventilation systems, the amount of time outside, the distance and infrastructure separating people from major traffic.

What is the council doing about air pollution?

The council has legal duties to review and assess air quality. We have worked together with the other nine Greater Manchester local authorities, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Transport for Greater Manchester and many other stakeholders to produce an air quality action plan to tackle the issue. In addition to the action plan, the council is working with Transport for Greater Manchester and the Combined Authority to produce detailed feasibility studies to identify how best to meet air quality legal limits for nitrogen dioxide as soon as possible.

How long will it take to solve the problem?

We will keep trying to reduce air pollution within the Air Quality Management Area and across the city to achieve air quality objectives and limits in the future. This is likely to take a number of years.

Greater Manchester has ambitions to become carbon neutral by 2038 and is a BreatheLife Network member, making a commitment to meet World Health Organisation guidelines on air quality by 2030.

Is air quality getting better or worse in Salford?

Nitrogen dioxide and particulate levels have been gradually falling and are predicted to continue to fall. However, levels have not fallen as much as originally expected and it is recognised that more needs to be done to meet air quality objectives at locations close to busy roads and reduce the local health impact of air pollution.

I am concerned about air pollution in my area – how can I find out more?

People living within an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) may be exposed to air pollution at a level that is higher than the annual average national air quality objective for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which has been set with health effects in mind. This objective is an annual average concentration of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air (ug/m3). However, the AQMA in Greater Manchester has been declared on a precautionary basis, using an annual average concentration of 35 ug/m3.

The true exposure of individuals in Salford to air pollution depends on several factors and the health effects are difficult to quantify - see FAQ above 'How does air pollution affect health?'.

The concentration of road traffic sourced air pollution tends to decline quickly away from busy roadsides in urban areas. If you live outside the AQMA, outdoor air quality at your home is likely to satisfy the air quality objectives.

If you work or spend time in the AQMA but don’t live in it, outdoor air pollution is likely to satisfy the national air quality objectives. Our review and assessments have demonstrated that national short term air quality objectives are not exceeded in Salford.

How does the council monitor air quality?

There is currently a network of over 40 air quality monitoring sites operated by Salford City Council. This is made up of a mixture of automatic sites (which measure air pollutants continuously using electronic analysers) and diffusion tubes (which are less sophisticated and give a monthly average pollution level after being analysed at a laboratory). The monitoring is supplemented by computer dispersion modelling to predict pollutant concentrations over a wider area and under different scenarios. An emission inventory is updated periodically to quantify emissions of pollutants from all identifiable sources in the area and look at trends over time.

Where can I find out about current air pollution levels?

Local air quality forecasts and monitoring results are available daily from the Clean Air Greater Manchester website.

What is the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan?

This is a plan being developed by Greater Manchester local authorities and Transport for Greater Manchester to identify how best to meet air quality legal limits for nitrogen dioxide as soon as possible.

What can I do to improve air quality?

There are many things that you can do to improve air quality and reduce your exposure to air pollution whilst travelling, at home, at work or at school – why not try something new?

Where can I get more information?

Below are links to some websites that provide further general information about air quality. If you have a specific query you can contact us.

This page was last updated on 9 April 2019

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