General air quality information
Local Air Quality Management (LAQM)
The Environment Act 1995 provides the legal framework for requiring Local Authorities in England and Wales to review the air quality in their area against national objectives including for some pollutants the number of times they must not be exceeded. Where a Local Authority predicts these objectives will be exceeded then they must declare an air quality management area in those locations.
At the centre of the AQS is the use of national air quality standards to enable air quality to be measured and assessed. These also provide the means by which objectives and timescales for the achievement of objectives can be set. The objectives are detailed in the table below:
Air Quality Objective
|Pollutant||Concentration||Measured as||Date to be achieved By|
|1,3-Butadiene||2.25 µg/m3||Annual mean||31/12/2003|
|Carbon monoxide||10.0 mg/m3||8-hour mean||31/12/2003|
|Nitrogen dioxide||200 µg/m3 not to be|
exceeded more than
18 times a year
|50 µg/m3, not to be|
exceeded more than
35 times a year
|Sulphur dioxide||350 µg/m3, not to be|
exceeded more than
24 times a year
125 µg/m3, not to be
exceeded more than
3 times a year
266 µg/m3, not to be
exceeded more than
35 times a year
Specific objectives relate either to achieving the full standard or, where use has been made of a short averaging period, objectives are sometimes expressed in terms of percentile compliance. The use of percentiles means that a limited number of exceedances of the air quality standard over a particular timescale, usually a year, are permitted. This is to account for unusual meteorological conditions or particular events such as Bonfire Night, November 5th.
In addition, the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2007 have been introduced in the UK. These implement the UK limit values of pollutants in the ambient air and set out the Governments objectives.
Specifically, the 2007 Regulations transpose Directive 2004/107/EC (the Fourth Daughter Directive) relating to arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the ambient air and to replace the Air Quality Limit Values Regulations 2003 in order consolidate all the Daughter Directives and the Air Quality Framework Directive.
Industrial Air Pollution
Emissions from industry are controlled by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) regime. IPPC was introduced by the European Community (EC) Directive 96/61/EC on (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control). In England and Wales the Directive is implemented by the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000
IPPC covers a wider range of industrial processes than the previous control Regulations (Part 1 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990: LAAPC) and covers a wider scale of environmental impacts. Where LAAPC covered only emissions to land, air and water, IPPC, in addition to the aforementioned emissions, also looks at resource and energy efficiency, accident prevention and minimisation of other pollutants such as noise, heat and vibrations.
IPPC has been implemented to meet the following environmental objectives:
- Protection of the environment as a whole by preventing or minimising emissions to all media (air, land and water)
- Encourage reductions in raw materials and energy use and increased recycling and reuse
- Promote the use of clean technology to reduce pollution at source
- Encourage innovation, by leaving significant responsibility for developing satisfactory solutions to environmental issues with industrial operators
- Provide a "one-stop shop" for administering applications for permits to operate; and
- Simplify and strengthen the role of the Regulators.
The regulations sub-divide industries: Part A1, Part A2 and Part B.
Part A1 Permits control activities with a range of environmental impacts and are regulated by the Environment Agency. These activities include:
- emissions to air, land and water
- energy efficiency
- waste reduction
- raw materials consumption
- noise, vibration and heat
- accident prevention
Part A2 Permits control a variety of industrial emission (as in Part A1 but are generally smaller-scale than the A1 processes) and Part B Permits control activities which cause emissions to air. Both Part A2 and Part B Permits are regulated by your Local Council.
The Permitting Process
Not all industrial activity requires an authorisation or permit to operate. Those that do are regulated either South Cambridgeshire District Council or the Environment Agency (EA).
Operating a prescribed activity without a permit could lead to a £50,000 fine, so if you believe an activity is being carried out or you wish to carry out an activity that may fall in the PPC Regulations, you should contact Environmental Health to discuss the application process.
Each relevant industry must apply for a Permit to the relevant regulatory Authority. In order to obtain a permit to operate an installation, the operator completes the permit application that demonstrates how they will:
- Ensure satisfactory environmental management of the installation
- Prevent or minimise waste production
- Prevent accidents or minimise their effect
- Ensure that closure of the installation does not leave residual pollution
- Promote energy efficiency, waste minimisation and management
- Ensure compliance with other EU Directives, Community and national environmental quality standards (EQSs) and domestic regulations; and
- Apply Best Available Techniques - BAT (see below)
Best Available Techniques (BAT)
In order to gain a Permit, operators must show that they have developed proposals to apply the Best Available Techniques (BAT) to pollution prevention and control and that they address other requirements, relevant to local factors.
BAT is defined by the regulations as follows:
"the most effective and advanced stage in the development of activities and their methods of operation which indicates the practical suitability of particular techniques for providing in principle the basis for emission limit values designed to prevent and, where that is not practicable, generally to reduce emissions and the impact on the environment as a whole".
Industries Requiring Permits
IPPC applies to specified installations, including both existing and new builds, requiring each operator to obtain a permit from the appropriate regulator. The following industrial sectors are required to hold a permit:
- Energy Production
- Production & Processing of Metals
- Production of Cement & Lime
- Activities involving Asbestos
- Glass, Glass Fibre and other Mineral Fibre Manufacture
- Ceramic Production
- Organic & Inorganic Chemical Production
- Fertiliser & Biocide Manufacture
- Pharmaceutical Manufacture
- Explosives Manufacture
- Storage of Bulk Chemicals
- Paper Manufacture
- Tar & Bitumen Processes
- Coating, Printing and Textile Activities
- Dye, Ink and Coating Material Manufacture
- Timber Activities
- Rubber Activities
- Processing of Food; and
- Intensive Farming
As part of the application process, permit operating conditions are agreed with the Regulator and must include:
- Emission limit values for pollutants
- Measures for the protection of soil and groundwater, and management of waste; and
- Requirements for environmental monitoring
- The operator must also consider the condition of the site at the time of the original application. This will contribute to assessing the need for restoration if the installation closes
The operator of the activity must carry out monitoring to demonstrate compliance with the permit conditions. Regulators will also carry out monitoring and regular inspections, and have a range of enforcement powers.
Operating a prescribed activity without consideration to the requirements of a Permit could lead to enforcement action (including enforcement notices, revocation of Permits and sentencing in a criminal court. If you believe an industry is operating against the requirements of a Permit, e-mail Health and Environmental Services or call 03450 450500 to report activities and incidents.
Indoor and Workplace Air Pollution
Indoor air pollution can only be controlled by the householder, but may be improved by increasing ventilation. However, if you are concerned about radon, asbestos or other building materials contact Health and Environmental Services.
Common indoor pollutants and their health effects
|Carbon monoxide||Incomplete combustion of organic materials. (Carbon containing) Wood, coal, oil, gas. Outdoors: vehicle exhausts, heating appliances. Indoors: smoking, heaters (unvented)||Reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood leading to headaches, nausea, vomiting and eventually asphyxiation and death. Long-term exposure to lower concentrations leads to an increased risk of heart disease.|
|Asbestos||Building material, wall cladding, insulation, brake linings. Exposure usually indoors during building work and car maintenance||Scarring of the lung and increased risk of lung, chest and abdominal cancer|
|Volatile Organic Compounds|
|Paints, varnishes, glues and preservatives used in wood products. Foam insulation, exposure indoors during decoration or construction and also household products (e.g. aerosols, paints and cleaning products)||Breathing difficulties, eye and skin irritation, nausea, dizziness and risk of cancer|
|Radon||Rocks contain naturally occurring radioactive material emit Radon gas||Increased risk of lung cancer|
Nicotine, tar, formaldehyde, oxides
of nitrogen, and carbon monoxide
|Smoking||Eye, throat and lung irritation. Increased liability to respiratory illness. Increased risk of lung cancer. Non-smokers breathing in others' smoke are also at risk|
|Micro-organisms and allergens||Biological contaminants, moulds, spores, viruses and bacteria||Pneumonia-like respiratory illnesses, allergic reactions|
One hundred properties within the National Grid square TL7035 are being monitored for indoor concentrations of radon. This action is in response to the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) mapping estimate that 1-3% of houses in this 5 kilometre square have levels of radon above the Government action level of 200Bgm -3. Results are expected later this year. Further information may be obtained from ourselves or the NRPB, Chilton, Didcot, Oxfordshire CX1 10RQ. Tel: (0800) 614529 or e-mail. Address your correspondence 'Radon Survey'.
Further information on the work of the NRPB can be found at their website.