What can I do to improve air quality?

Air pollution is a local, national and international problem. We all need to do our bit to tackle it – If enough people are committed to making small changes frequently and together we can make improvements in air quality and reduce our exposure to air pollution. Some examples of actions you can take are below:


  • Reduce your transport related emissions by walking or cycling on short journeys, or using public transport. You can help protect yourself from air pollution by choosing to walk or cycle along quieter routes that avoid pollution.
  • Travelling in a car does not protect you from traffic related air pollution. Exposure to air pollution inside your vehicle can be as high, or higher in slow moving traffic as outside the vehicle - walking or cycling instead can reduce exposure and gain wider benefits. If you’re in a vehicle, you just get the risks with none of the exercise benefits.
  • If you have to make a car journey, consider:
    • Taking up car sharing or working from home instead.
    • Avoiding driving in congested periods where possible.
    • Joining a car club. Salford's car share club, Co-Wheels, includes a number of electric and hybrid vehicles that produce no or low local nitrogen oxides emissions.
    • Switching to a lower emission vehicle or electric vehicle if you change vehicles.
    • Switching off your vehicle engine when stationary for longer periods.
    • Maintaining your vehicle regularly – by servicing your car regularly you can help maintain emissions and fuel economy performance. Check your vehicle handbook to use the right specification of engine oil and keep your tyres inflated to the correct pressures – under inflated tyres will make your vehicle use more fuel. More fuel and emissions saving tips are available from the Energy Savings Trust.

Visit the Clean Air Greater Manchester website for more tips to reduce and avoid pollution when travelling.

At home

  • If you burn solid fuel at home, consider switching to a cleaner fuel - electricity or gas. If there is no alternative to burning solid fuel, consider switching to a cleaner modern stove and burning quality wood or smokeless fuels – be aware of Smoke Control Area requirements.
  • Avoid burning wood or garden waste on a bonfire – the smoke produced contributes to local air pollution and can be very irritating to the occupiers of surrounding premises.
  • Be as energy efficient as possible e.g. by upgrading your boiler or improving insulation. Find out about how to get energy efficiency advice and apply for grants
  • Choose clean energy suppliers and environmentally sustainable products, and potentially save money in the process.
  • Keep your home ventilated – indoor air quality can be poorer than outside air, even in cities due to a build-up of pollutants from sources such as home heating and cooking appliances, tobacco products, cleaning products, building materials and home furnishings.
  • Find out about your own emissions footprint and how to reduce it by using an online calculator.

At work

  • Encourage staff to walk or cycle to work.
  • Encourage your organisation to register as a cycle to work scheme provider, and help employees spread the cost of a new commuting bike through 12 monthly tax-free instalments.
  • Sign up to the Greater Manchester Carbon Literacy Project and join other businesses supporting their organisation and staff to build a low carbon future.
  • Choose clean energy suppliers and environmentally sustainable products, and potentially save money in the process.
  • Encourage your organisation to join a vehicle fleet recognition scheme, such as Ecostars or FORS to improve efficiency, reduce emissions and make cost savings.

At school

  • Swap school journeys in the car for walking or cycling to reduce congestion and increase exercise.
  • Don’t leave your engine idling outside school gates. Children are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution and so it can have a greater impact on their health.
  • Encourage your school to develop a School Travel Plan, championing journeys to school by more sustainable forms of transport and supporting pupil’s health, wellbeing and safety.
  • Teach students about air pollution and inspire them to take action with interactive and free lesson plans.


Please note that 'excessively smoky' vehicles are those which emit a continuous stream of thick smoke. Many diesel engines emit a small amount of smoke when starting from cold and accelerating, which is normal and should not be reported.

Excessively smoky commercial vehicles such as lorries, buses and coaches should be reported directly to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) using an online smoky lorry or bus reporting form or telephoning 0300 123 9000 (select option 4).

Excessively smoky taxis and private hire vehicles registered in Salford can be reported to the council – the complaint will be referred to our Licensing section.

In all cases, the following information is needed in order to make a report:

  • Type of vehicle – for example, Heavy Goods Vehicle (lorry), Public Service Vehicle (bus or coach) or taxi
  • Vehicle Registration Mark
  • Company name (if available)
  • Location where you witnessed the smoky vehicle (road name or number)
  • Date and time of sighting of the smoky vehicle

Once reported, the operator will be contacted, and if necessary required to provide evidence of an approved smoke test on the vehicle.

More resources:

More information about air quality and a wide range of free resources for individuals, healthcare professionals, schools, communities and businesses are available from Global Action Plan.

This page was last updated on 2 September 2022

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