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Air Quality a short history

Air Quality a short history

During SRL’s 50 years, air pollution in the UK has changed significantly. In the mid 1900’s, industrial emissions from the burning of fossil fuels led to toxic smog which killed thousands; the resulting public pressure resulted in the introduction of the first Clean Air Act in 1956.

Cleaner fuels and higher stacks brought about significant improvements in industrial emissions, but as one problem was resolved, another took its place. An increase in traffic led to a rise in emissions of nitrogen oxides and particles, with the biggest problems in urban areas where large numbers of slow-moving vehicles churn out their pollutants close to houses, schools, and other sensitive locations.

In the 1990’s, the Local Air Quality Management system was introduced, which passed responsibility to local authorities to review and assess air quality within their areas, and put in place actions to improve air quality where problems were identified. Reductions in vehicle emissions through improved technology should have improved air quality, despite the significant increase in vehicles on the road. However, recent ‘scandals’ have highlighted why air quality hasn’t improved as anticipated.

Between the 6th and 12th of March 2017, the BBC are running the SoICanBreathe campaign. They have brought together stories describing the impact of air quality and the ways in which it can be improved, from across the UK and the world.

The bite-size articles and videos explore the complexity of unravelling the health effects and the social and economic considerations of potential solutions. They discuss myths and misconceptions and bring together information on the hidden killer which is interesting, mostly unseen and important to health.

We have brought together links to the articles on our website here:

SRL’s air quality team work with both public and private sector clients to quantify air quality impacts of proposed developments and schemes, and to help identify appropriate mitigation measures. This approach enables development whilst minimising the harmful health effects.