Particulate pollution remains high across UK

Air pollution monitoring sites in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland continue to show high levels of PM2.5 pollution today (March 18)

High levels of particle air pollution continued across the UK today (March 18) with the pollution episode now forecasted to last for the rest of the working week in many parts.

According to Defra’s monitoring network, as of 5pm today, there were 24 sites across the UK monitoring high levels of particulate matter.

In contrast, yesterday (March 17) evening there were 12 monitoring sites in the UK within the ‘High’ air pollution banding (see story).

Now, high levels of PM2.5 are currently being monitored at sites in the likes of London, Nottingham, Salford, Warrington, Wigan, Portsmouth, Southampton, Chepstow, Bristol, Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Hull and Belfast as of 5pm today.

Meanwhile, more localised monitoring highlights Aberdeen as particularly suffering with particle pollution, with one site in the Scottish city monitoring very high PM10 levels at the top of the scale.

The pollution episode has affected visibility in London today, while in Paris there have been reports that the situation across Europe has affected visibility of the Eiffel Tower.

The London Air monitoring website maintained by King’s College London forecasts moderate levels of particulate air pollution tomorrow (March 19), with wind continuing to bring emissions from across Northern Europe.

However, it is forecasting a cloudy day tomorrow with a chance of rain, with stronger winds likely to bring cleaner air by the end of the day to disperse the pollution.

On a national level, high pressure is expected to begin to break down at the weekend, which will in turn improve the air quality, forecasts suggest.

Levels of nitrogen dioxide at sites in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland remain within the ‘Low’ and occasionally ‘Moderate’ banding.


As of 5pm today, a summary of 91 monitoring sites in Scotland shows three areas measuring ‘high’ and one area — Aberdeen Market Street — measuring ‘very high’ levels of particulate matter PM10 at the top of the scale.

The sites measuring at ‘high’ as of 5pm today for PM10 are Broxburn in West Lothian (7), Rutherglen in South Lanarkshire (7) and Rosyth in Fife (7).

Moderate levels of pollution are currently forecast for tomorrow (March 19) across Scotland, except in Glasgow, where levels are currently projected to remain low.

Commenting on the particulate pollution issues across Scotland this week, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna, said the key cause was traffic, which was impacting on asthmatics and may lead to an increase in hospital admissions for respiratory conditions and heart attacks.

She said: “Some of this air pollution has blown in from Western Europe, but it has added to our existing air pollution from road traffic. This current episode is a strong reminder that the Government needs to do much more to tackle Scotland’s ongoing air pollution problem.

The campaigner called for more low emission zones and said the Sottish Government’s draft Low Emission Strategy, which is currently up for consultation “lacks vision and clarity”.

She said: “In France, urgent action has been taken, with free public transport announced for everyone in Paris to discourage car use. The Scottish Government needs to look at similar action to protect people’s health here.

Northern Ireland

The latest monitoring in Northern Ireland shows sites in the centre of Belfast and in Newry on Canal Street and Trevor Hill at ‘High’ levels of particulate matter PM2.5 and PM10 as of 4pm today.

There are also sites monitoring moderate levels of pollution in the likes of Armagh, Lisburn and North Down.

As a result, the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland (DOENI) issued an alert today (March 18), which states: “High levels of air pollution (particulate matter) are currently being monitored in the Belfast area. Moderate levels of air pollution are being monitored in other urban centres across Northern Ireland.

“The air quality forecast indicates that the pollution is likely to persist into tomorrow and Friday, depending on weather conditions. These pollution levels are the result of the cold, calm, foggy weather conditions we are currently experiencing which can lead to the build up of local emissions from vehicles and home heating.”

However, DOENI’s five day forecast expects pollution levels to return to Low on Friday (March 20) and across the weekend.

Related Links:

-Defra air website


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