UK air quality reaches eight-year high

Meacher welcomes renewed improvement in urban air, notes no clear trend for rural areas

UK air quality was better in 2000 than at any time since comprehensive monitoring began in 1993, according to provisional data published on Sunday. Environment minister Michael Meacher welcomed the results, showing an average of 17 days of moderate or higher air pollution in urban areas, and 25 days at rural sites.

Until recently, the main culprits behind urban air pollution have been particulates, sulphur dioxide and ground level ozone. But regulatory success in reducing emissions of the first two means that ozone is now the main cause of poor air quality in all areas. Mr Meacher acknowledged that ozone levels varied considerably according to weather patterns and that wet weather in 2000 had contributed to the observed fall compared with 1999. He also noted that there was still no evidence of a downward trend in rural air pollution.

Alongside the monitoring data, the minister launched a public consultation on improving public information on air quality.

Follow Up:
UK environment ministry, tel: +44 20 79 44 30 00, press release, air quality data, and local air quality maps. See also public information consultation paper.

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