Consultation on Traffic Clean Air Zone options

Air quality in Bristol – what is the issue?

Air quality in Bristol

Pollution can make the air we breathe bad for our health. Air pollution has been a problem in Bristol and many UK cities for a long time. Bristol has had an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) since 2001 because levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are higher than legal standards.

An AQMA is an area in which levels of one or more air pollutants are above permitted national or European levels.

In Bristol, the AQMA (Figure 1) covers the central areas of the city (focussed on Central ward, Hotwells and Harbourside, Lawrence Hill, Southville, and parts of Ashley, Easton and Windmill Hill) plus neighbouring wards which include the main roads into the city (M32, A432 Fishponds Road, A420 Church Road, A4 Bath Road, A37 Wells Road, A38 West Street and A38 Gloucester Road). 
Figure 1: The following map shows the level of NO2 at recording sites across central Bristol. The red and yellow dots show sites where levels of NO2 are above the legal limit of 40 ug/m3. (The green dots show sites where levels of NO2 are within the legal limit.) Source data

For a more detailed map click here
Air pollution and health

Air pollution is made up of gases and particles in the air which are harmful to people and other life. The higher the levels of pollution and the more time people spend in polluted air, the worse the effects on health can be. For some pollutants, there is no safe limit and exposure to even fairly low concentrations may be harmful. It is now known that exposure to air pollution can lead to heart disease, strokes, asthma, lung cancer, and damage to other internal organs.
The most concerning pollutants within Bristol are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and very small particulates. These pollutants are invisible.
UK and EU limits on levels of NO2 are currently breached in Bristol. Local authorities are legally required to reduce levels of NO2 as soon as possible to comply with these health-based standards and this consultation is concerned with reducing the levels of NO2 in the shortest possible time.
Very small particulates (less than 10 micrometres or about the width of a single thread in a spider’s web) are dangerous because they can penetrate deep into the lungs and travel round the body in the bloodstream where they can affect both your lungs and your heart. Although the focus of this consultation is on NO2, our proposals would also reduce levels of harmful particulates.
A major source of NO2 in cities is from road traffic, particularly diesel engines. This is why road traffic emissions must be tackled for people’s health.

Find out more about air pollution 
Is poor air quality in Bristol linked to climate change?

Poor air quality affects people’s health, particularly in cities where pollution is more concentrated. NO2 and small particulates are the main pollutants.

Climate change is caused by increasing levels of COand some other gases. It is a major global threat because it is leading to extreme weather events, disruption to water and food supplies and rising sea levels.

Although these are different problems, both poor air quality and climate change are caused by some of the same things, such as burning petrol and diesel in vehicles - and the changes we are proposing to improve air quality could also help climate change, particularly if people walk, cycle or use public transport instead of driving.

These changes would also have both physical and mental health benefits.
Your views on the health impacts of poor air quality

1. How concerned are you about the impacts of poor air quality in Bristol on your health and the health of your family?