Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air that are detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole. Pollution comes in two formats, gases caused by burning things (combustion) or using household or industrial chemicals for example, and particulate matter such as dust or soot.
In the UK the gas nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) and fine particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) are of most concern, with traffic frequently the main cause of both.
NO₂ is produced by car engines and PM2.5 is generated not only by fuel burning, but also by the dust created by the wear and tear of brake pads being applied to tyres.
Air pollution can also cause allergies, often exacerbated by the interaction of dust, including pollen, with the air pollution itself.
Check pollution levels near you
AddressPollution.org – Get a free Air Quality report for your address by typing your postcode.
UK Air Air Information Resources – Air Pollution forecast across the UK from the Department of Environment.
London Air – A comprehensive map showing current pollution levels across London.
How polluted is your school?
You can also check whether your child’s school is within an area of Air Quality Management on the DEFRA Website
And you can find the levels of different pollutants in your area on the National Atmospheric Inventory website.
Your council should also have a page on air quality on their website, giving local information and updates on the situation in your area. Most of this data comes from local authorities who only have a couple of reference air pollution monitors in each of their boroughs. These are very accurate, but only provide data from one fixed location, which may not be representative of the air quality at your school.
Care4Air provides a detailed explanation of how air pollution is measured.
Be aware that there are allergy triggers for asthma in the air such as pollen.
Airborne Allergy Action raises awareness of the benefits of the airborne allergen avoidance. Read More
To get accurate data, some schools are getting their own monitors to make sure they have hyper-local and real time results. There are also apps which monitor air pollution. See our directory for a list suppliers and apps.