Environmental Protection - Air Quality

Air Quality in Cornwall

Although air quality in Cornwall is generally very good there are certain 'hotspots' where standards fail to meet national air quality objectives. As part of our statutory duties, we undertake a regular programme to monitor and review air quality in Cornwall. Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) have to be declared in areas where these Government standards are not being met. AQMAs have been declared in the following locations due to high levels of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide:

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  • Camborne, Pool, and Redruth (CPR) (2005);
  • Bodmin (2008);
  • Tideford (2011);
  • Gunnislake (2014); 
  • St Austell (2014); 
  • Truro (2015); 
  • Camelford (2017); 
  • Grampound (2017); and
  • Launceston (2018)

In May 1997 the Government produced the National Air Quality Strategy (NAQS). The strategy represents a comprehensive approach to maintaining and improving the quality of ambient air in the United Kingdom.

Outlined in the strategy are the air quality objectives for the 7 pollutants of most concern at present and the dates it feels these objectives should be met. These objectives are based on EU Limit Values for these pollutants and the UK is legally required to meet these Limit Values by the dates set. 

Pollutants of concern:

  • PM10 Particulates
  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
  • Benzene
  • Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
  • 1,3 Butadiene
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Lead

Under the Environment Act 1995 Local Authorities are required to assess and, if necessary, take action in matters relating to air quality. If, after monitoring Cornwall Council are of the opinion that levels have or are likely to exceed the Government standards there is a duty to initiate remedial action. This is in the form of declaring an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and preparation of an Action Plan to improve air quality.

We are measuring nitrogen dioxide at several locations around the county using ‘diffusion tubes’. These are small plastic tubes that sample nitrogen dioxide for one month before being sent to a laboratory for analysis.  The results give us a good idea of where pollution levels are highest.

At some locations we also have monitors that continually measure nitrogen dioxide or particulate matter. These are located in some of the most polluted locations to help us identify particular patterns or times of day when pollution is highest.

Further information on air quality in Cornwall is available via the links below:

For more information on air quality and the levels of pollutants that should be in our air visit the Defra UK-AIR website.

For more information on air quality please contact the Environmental Protection Team by e-mail communityandenvironmentalprotection@cornwall.gov.uk or by calling 0300 1234 212