Air quality monitoring

Information on how we monitor air quality, air quality in the local area, sources of air pollution and effects on health, pollen monitoring, controlling air pollution from businesses, and air quality assessments for planning applications.

Does the council monitor air quality?

Yes, we monitor levels of nitrogen dioxide (NOx), which is a key pollutant from vehicle exhausts. We use a network of around 90 diffusion tubes, which are small plastic tubes that can be attached to lamposts and road signs, and are collected and changed over once a month. The results are presented in our most recent annual status reports, and are reviewed periodically.

You can view the location of current and historic NOx tube monitoring, as well as a summary of previous annual results, on our interactive map. You can also access the East Riding of Yorkshire Council air quality portal to view and download data from our Zephyr monitors

In addition to the NOx tube surveys, we have a network of seven automatic monitors measuring nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone and particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5 and PM10). We have also previously used permanent monitoring stations located in Beverley, Bridlington, Goole, and Preston, to provide more detailed information on air quality in our area.  

What are the legal limits for air quality?

The following concentrations have been set as UK air quality objectives, or target levels, for the main pollutants that we monitor in the East Riding:

  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) - 200ug/m3 not to be exceeded more than 18 times a year (measured as a 1 hour mean concentration) or 40ug/m3 (measured as an annual mean concentration)
  • Particulate Matter (PM10) - 50 ug/m3 not to be exceeded more than 35 times a year (measured as a 24 hour mean concentration) or 40ug/m3 (measured as an annual mean concentration)
  • Particulate Matter (PM2.5) - no current UK objective level for PM2.5 under Local Air Quality Management, however there is a National Air Quality Target of 25ug/m3 (measured as an annual mean concentration).  The government are currently consulting on a new target concentration for PM2.5 of 10ug/m3 (measured as an annual mean concentration, to be achieved by 2040), as well as reducing public exposure to PM2.5 by 35% (by 2040, compared to a base year of 2018). 

How might air pollution affect my health?

The quality of the air we breathe is affected when there are impurities in the air such as oxides of sulphur and nitrogen or carbon monoxide or fine particles. These can cause an irritation of the air passages resulting in increased secretions and narrowing them, which makes it difficult to get enough air into our lungs.

The most vulnerable people to air pollution are those who are already suffering from respiratory problems such as asthma, and heart disease.  It is of course advisable to avoid smoky environments where the air quality is obviously poor. It is also advisable to ensure adequate ventilation and protection when working in dusty conditions or with chemicals.

If you suffer from a respiratory disease it is possible that air pollution may be a contributory factor.  Your doctor will be able to advise you on that and also advise whether poor air quality is continuing to have an adverse effect.

Read more about health effects of air pollution on the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities website:

Health effects of air pollution (external website)

Can I see air quality information for the local area?

Access the East Riding of Yorkshire Council air quality portal to view and download data from our seven Zephyr monitors

You can also Find local air pollution forecasts on the Defra website

Monitoring results and reports

The data from our network of automatic monitors is downloaded on a weekly basis and is made available in the following spreadsheets:

Bessingby Way Bridlington air quality monitoring data (2.2mb)

Melton Road North Ferriby air quality monitoring data (2.2mb)

North Street Goole air quality monitoring data (2.2mb)

Reynolds Close Melton - air quality monitoring data (4.3mb)

Station Road Hessle air quality monitoring data (2.2mb)

Station Road Preston air quality monitoring data (2.2mb)

Swinemoor Lane Beverley air quality monitoring data (2.2mb)

We produce annual reports on local air quality based on our monitoring data. The following reports are available:

2022 Air Quality Annual Status Report (subject to approval by Defra) (6.5mb)

2021 Air Quality Annual Status Report (10mb)

2020 Air Quality Annual Status Report (4.9mb)

2019 Air Quality Annual Status Report (5.7mb)

2018 Air Quality Annual Status Report (5.6mb)

2017 Air Quality Annual Status Report (4.3mb)

2016 Air Quality Annual Status Report (4.4mb)

Air Quality Update and Screening Assessment 2015 (1.4mb)

Diffusion Tube - Summary of NOx results 2009-2014 (75kb)

Air Quality Update and Screening Assessment 2012 (1mb) 

We published Stage 1 of the first round of review and assessment in March 1999, followed by a combined Stage 2 and 3 assessment published in April 2001.  These documents set out the origins of local air quality management in the East Riding. 

Stage 1 Air Quality Review and Assessment (776kb) 

Stage 2 and 3 Air Quality Review and Assessment (2mb)

For further information about air quality monitoring, including historic data, please contact our environmental control team:

Email: pollution.control@eastriding.gov.uk

What are the main sources of air pollution?

Many of the processes involved in industry, power generation, transportation, and domestic activities produce air pollution, as do natural events such as volcanic eruptions and decomposing organic matter. A major contributor to air pollution in the UK is from traffic emissions, particularly in urban areas.  The following list shows key air pollutants in the UK and the estimated contribution from different sources.

  • Benzene (C6H6) - Motor vehicles account for 71 per cent of emissions. Refining, distribution and evaporation of petrol contributes 10 per cent
  • 1:3-butadiene (C4H6) - Petrol vehicles account for 68 per cent of emissions. Industrial sources contribute 14 per cent
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) - Road transport accounts for 69 per cent of emissions, with non-road sources contributing 9 per cent, and domestic sources 5 per cent
  • Lead (Pb) - Most airborne lead in the UK has arisen from motor vehicles, however the use of unleaded petrol has caused emissions to fall significantly
  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) - Road transport accounts for 44 per cent of total emissions, power stations 21 per cent, and other industry 9 per cent
  • Particulate (PM10) - Road transport contributes 20 per cent of the total emissions, as do domestic sources, but this can be higher in urban areas. Construction, mining and quarrying contribute 13 per cent, and power stations 10 per cent
  • Sulphur dioxide (SO2) - Fossil-fuelled power stations account for 65 per cent of emissions. Other industry contributes 10 per cent and refineries 8 per cent
  • Ozone (O3) - Arises from chemical reactions in the atmosphere caused by sunlight. Oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons can react to form ozone at ground level.

Does the council monitor pollen levels?

Yes, we monitor grass pollen levels during the grass pollen season (typically late May to early August) each year, from a monitoring location in Beverley. The results are sent to the Met Office, where they are analysed and combined with monitoring results from across the country to produce national forecasts. 

Read more about pollen forecasts on the Met Office website

We have also previously been involved in a research project with the Met office and Bangor University, looking at the genetic make-up of grass pollen, to help better understand how it is measured and its effects on health.

Read more about the pollen research project on the Met Office website

For further information about pollen monitoring, including historical records, please contact our environmental control team:

Email: pollution.control@eastriding.gov.uk 

How does the council control air pollution from businesses?

We issue environmental permits to certain types of businesses that might have an impact on air quality. The permits contain conditions that the operator has to comply with, including emission limits. We routinely inspect these businesses to make sure they are complying with the permit conditions.

Read more about Environmental Permitting.

A list of current businesses with an environmental permit issued by the council can be found on our Public Register.

Do I need to do an air quality assessment as part of my planning application?

Most individual planning applications are for development which is unlikely to have a significant impact on local air quality.  However some larger schemes may either be introducing new sources of air pollution, such as a new road or industry, or introducing sensitive uses in an area with poor air quality, and you are advised to seek specialist advice from an air quality consultant in these cases.

Search for an environmental consultant on the ENDS directory website.

If your planning application includes proposals for a biomass boiler or combined heat and power system, please complete and submit one of the following forms to the planning department with your application:

Planning biomass boiler information request form (52kb)

Planning combined heat and power information request form (55kb) 

National planning policy

The National Planning Policy Framework states that planning policies and decisions should:

  • prevent new and existing development from contributing to, being put at unacceptable risk from, or being adversely affected by, unacceptable levels of air pollution. 
  • sustain and contribute towards compliance with relevant limit values or national objectives for pollutants, taking into account the presence of Air Quality Management Areas and Clean Air Zones, and the cumulative impacts from individual sites in local areas. Opportunities to improve air quality or mitigate impacts should be identified, such as through traffic and travel management, and green infrastructure provision and enhancement. So far as possible these opportunities should be considered at the plan-making stage, to ensure a strategic approach and limit the need for issues to be reconsidered when determining individual applications.   

Read more about the National Planning Policy Framework on the GOV.UK website.

There is also National planning practice guidance on air quality on the GOV.UK website.

Environmental Protection UK and the Institute of Air Quality Management have also produced useful guidance on air pollution and planning, which is available on the EPUK website

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