Having clean air to breathe protects our wellbeing and keeps us healthy. We want the air in our city to be cleaner to avoid health problems.
Pollutants mainly come from human activities such as industry, burning fuel, road traffic and building heating. Some come from natural sources such as the sea, wind-blown dust and decomposing organic matter.
The Environment Act 1995 requires the City Council to review and assess the air quality in Newcastle each year, looking specifically at the seven air pollutants in the Government's National Air Quality Strategy:
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).
- Fine Particles (PM10).
- Carbon Monoxide (CO).
- Sulphur Dioxide (SO2).
- 1,3 Butadiene.
The assessments form part of the Local Air Quality Management guidance which works towards achieving National Air Quality objectives. To protect health and the environment, standards for pollution levels have been set by the Government, the European Union and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Monitoring air quality
We monitor air quality across the Newcastle so that we know and understand where problems with air quality are happening. The pollutant of most concern to us in Newcastle is nitrogen dioxide (NO2) caused by road traffic.
We have four automatic monitoring stations, measuring a variety of pollutants. We have put the monitors in locations where we think air pollution may be at risk of going above Government air pollution objectives.
Monitoring station locations
- AURN site St. Mary’s Place (monitors PM2.5, PM10, NO2, benzene and polyarormatic hydrocarbons (eg, flourene and pyrene).
- Percy Street (monitors NO2)
- Jesmond Road (monitors NO2, PM10 and ozone)
- Pilgrim Street, off Swan House roundabout (monitors NO2).
The monitoring data results can be viewed in our yearly technical report to DEFRA (see below). Our most recent monitoring data can also be viewed online at Air Quality.
We also have over 50 non-automatic monitoring stations at locations across the city to monitor roadside levels of nitrogen dioxide.
Annual air quality progress reports
The technical reports below show the monitoring results for the city over the past five years and how air quality levels have changed and been influenced by developments in the city.
- Air Quality Annual Status Report 2018 (pdf, 1.3 mb)
- Air Quality Annual Status Report 2017 (pdf, 1.5 mb)
- Air Quality Annual Status Report 2016 (pdf, 291 kb)
- Air Quality Progress Report for Newcastle 2014 (pdf, 1.51 Kb)
- Updating and Screening Report for Newcastle 2015 (pdf 4 Kb)
- Air Quality Progress Report for Newcastle 2013 (pdf, 932 Kb).
Air quality management areas (AQMAs)
There are two AQMAs in Newcastle.
City Centre AQMA
- Air Quality Management Area – City Centre (pdf, 369 Kb).
- Further Assessment of Air Quality in City Centre (pdf, 488 Kb).
- Air Quality Management Area – Gosforth (pdf, 393 Kb).
- Detailed Assessment of Air Quality in Newcastle (pdf, 1.7 Mb).
The effects of air quality on health
Air pollution has an impact on everyone living and working in our city. However, it is the most vulnerable people such as children, older people and those with heart and respiratory conditions who feel the effects most. People living near busy roads are exposed to higher levels of road traffic pollution.
Particulate matter (PM)
- Particulate matter can harm the human respiratory and cardiovascular systems - it is linked to asthma and mortality.
- Research shows that particles with a diameter of ten microns (one seventh the width of a human hair) and smaller (PM10) are likely to be inhaled deep into the respiratory tract.
- As smaller particles can penetrate deeper, the health impacts of PM2.5 are especially significant.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
- At high concentrations, NO2 causes inflammation of the airways.
- Long-term exposure can affect lung function and respiratory symptoms - it can also increase asthma symptoms.
- Air pollution also causes damage to plants and animals, and affects biodiversity and crop yields.
The effects of air pollution on health are described on the Defra website.
Over and above our annual air quality monitoring, an additional piece of work was undertaken in 2018 in conjunction with Newcastle University. A dedicated Data Scientist analysed air quality monitoring data for the periods of the temporary closures of Blackett Street to vehicles during the Great Exhibition of the North. The report provided is attached.
Directorate of Operations and Regulatory Services
Newcastle City Council
Newcastle upon Tyne
Phone: 0191 2787878
Useful external links
- Tyne & Wear Local Transport Plan.
- UK-AIR: air quality information.
- COMEAP (The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution).
- Air quality information for children is available on the Clean Air for Kids website.
- The Go Smarter to Work and Go Smarter to Schools websites both encourage alternative ways to travel in Newcastle by foot, cycling and public transport.