National heath-based standards protect vulnerable members of society from the impacts of poor air quality, including:
- the young
- the elderly
- those already suffering from long term (chronic) respiratory illnesses
Where air pollution levels exceed the standards we declare 'Air Quality Management Areas' (AQMAs) and draw up Air Quality Action Plans (AQAPs) to improve air quality.
Air Quality Management Areas in York
Air quality monitoring has been undertaken in York since 1999:
- In 2001, we identified 5 areas of the city centre, around the busy inner ring road, where it was unlikely that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels would meet objectives. The 5 areas were incorporated into a single Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in January 2002.
- The 2002 AQMA included areas where members of the public were likely to be exposed to air pollution regularly over long periods of time, such as residential properties, nursing homes and schools. Roads were also included within the AQMA boundary, and showed the wider area that residents and businesses stated they wanted to see air quality improved.
- In April 2012, we identified a number of additional locations around the inner ring road that were also breaching the 'annual average air quality objective' for NO2. We also had evidence to suggest that the 'short-term hourly objective' was being breached in some locations.
- In September 2012, the AQMA was revised to reflect the wider area of the city known to be affected by poor air quality.
Two additional AQMAs were also declared in other areas:
- April 2010 - along the A19 corridor to the south of the city, following repeated exceedances of the annual average NO2 objective on Main Street, Fulford
- May 2012 - along Salisbury Terrace, due to further evidence of elevated levels of NO2 in the Leeman Road area. Due to an improvement in air quality in this area in recent years, this AQMA is currently in the process of being revoked (October 2017).