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air quality over previous decades – how are we doing?

We often hear about how bad air pollution is for our health, and that we are failing to reach acceptable – even legal – levels of pollutants in our big cities.  But various national and European legislation has been introduced over the last few decades – is it working?

A new study published in Environmental Research Letters looks at how levels of emissions of particulates, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, non-methane volatile organic compounds and ammonia changed between 1970 and 2010, during which time measures including the Clean Air Act 1993, the Environment Act 1995 and several Air Quality Standards Regulations came into force.  The study also models likely impacts on health and death.

The authors came to the SMC to discuss things such as:

– are things improving?

– how can we tell which measures are making a difference?

– how can we attribute ill health or premature death to air pollution?

– what do we most urgently need to tackle?

– where do most emissions come from?



Dr Stefan Reis, Science Area Head – Atmospheric Chemistry and Effects, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), and Honorary Associate Professor, University of Exeter Medical School

Prof Mathew Heal, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry, University of Edinburgh

Dr Clare Heaviside, NERC Independent Research Fellow, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Prof Sotiris Vardoulakis, Director of Research, Institute of Occupational Medicine

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