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Learn about air quality

Use this page to learn about the health impacts of poor air quality, how air quality is monitored and what we've already done to improve it.

Air pollution refers to the contamination of our air.  Air becomes polluted when harmful gases and chemicals are released into the air. The majority of these harmful gases and chemicals are emitted through human activity, like vehicle exhaust fumes, burning fossil fuels, and the emissions from agriculture and industry. You can learn more about the causes of air pollution on UK Air's website.

Air pollution affects everyone, but children, pregnant women, older people and people with medical conditions like asthma, heart attacks and COPD are particularly vulnerable. That is why improving the air quality in our area could help to improve the health of vulnerable people in our communities.

Access air quality data for B&NES

You can download recent data from the live monitoring sites on the UK Air Quality website, or you can view the latest raw data for London Road (Bath A4 Roadside) in the last hour.

We have a network of 180 diffusion tubes across the area which measure monthly nitrogen dioxide concentrations. The tubes are collected monthly and taken to a lab. The data from these tubes is added to the Annual Status Report.

We have declared the following Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) to manage nitrogen dioxide levels:

  • the major road network in Bath
  • Keynsham high street
  • a section of the A4 in Saltford
  • sections of the A37 in Temple Cloud and Farrington Gurney

Our action so far

We've already taken action against rising air pollution in the following ways:

  • implemented Bath's Clean Air Zone
  • encouraged people to choose active modes of travel, use public transport, walk or use their bikes more
  • engaged with health professionals to promote healthier behaviours
  • promoted clean air initiatives like Clean Air Day and anti-idling campaigning with schools (download our clean air e-toolkit or explore more resources on The Hub)
  • encouraged schools to take part in transport-related initiatives and events like Walk to School Week

Actions you can take to protect your health

We recommend the following advice to help you protect your health:

  • Close external doors and windows that face busy streets when traffic is heavy
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm
  • Get help to quit smoking and keep a smoke-free house, particularly if you have babies or young children
  • Turn your engine off when you're waiting in traffic. Sign up to our Kick the Habit pledge.
  • Use active modes of travel, by walking, cycling or wheeling. You can also take quieter streets to avoid traffic
  • Use public transport instead of a car
  • Use an asthma reliever inhaler more often, as necessary
  • Consider limiting the use of log burners at home, if you have one. Read more about indoor fires and wood burning