Air pollution levels in Oxford are increasing again, after a significant drop in 2020 due to the pandemic,
On Clean Air Day on June 16, Oxford City Council published its latest Air Quality Annual Status Report for 2021. The new data examines the average air pollution levels across 88 air pollution monitoring locations across the city. The data shows a 14 per cent increase in air pollution levels on 2020 levels, largely due to the easing of coronavirus lockdown measures and increasing traffic across the city.
Before the pandemic, air pollution levels in the city were plateauing after a significant drop due to the introduction of the Low Emission Zone for buses in 2013. In order to see another major reduction more action is needed to reduce the number of cars on the road and promote electric vehicle use, said Oxford City Council.Air quality was monitored at an additional 20 new locations to help the council improve its knowledge of the impacts of transport schemes, including the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, and the proposed ‘Core Schemesn For a second year, all monitoring stations across the city were fully compliant within the national legal limit for NO2 of 40 µg/m3
10 locations were above the City Council’s own local annual mean target of 30 µg/m3: Cutteslowe Roundabout; St Aldates; High Street (East), High Street (West); Long Wall Street; St Clements Street; Speedwell Street; Hollow Way Road; Wolvercote Roundabout; and Garsington Road St. Clements Street/The Plain traditionally Oxford’s most air polluted road -continued to have the highest air pollution levels with an annual NO2 mean of 39 µg/m3 – only 1 µg/m3 below the UK’s annual mean limit. According to data from Oxfordshire County Council, in 2021 traffic levels increased by 14 per cent on the main arterial routes in and out of Oxford.
Particulate Matter saw no significant rise or fall compared to 2020 levels and were in compliance with the UK’s annual mean target, and only slightly above the World Health Organisation’s recommended guidelines. Councillor Imogen Thomas, cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, said: “Air pollution impacts everyone in society, but it can be especially harmful to the most vulnerable members of our community, including people from minority backgrounds, children, the elderly, and those already experiencing health issues.
“Last year the Council approved a new Air Quality Action Plan for Oxford and set out our own voluntary target for 30 µg/m3 of NO2 to be achieved, by 2025 at the latest, but there is no safe level of air pollution. We need to continue to take action to reduce air pollution in our city and clean up our air so nobody is breathing polluted air.” Councillor Louise Upton, cabinet member for Health and Transport, added: “Transport emissions accounts for 68 per cent of NOx emissions in Oxford, and in 2021 we saw a 14 per cent increase in air pollution levels compared with 2020 levels due to the easing of coronavirus measures and a rise in traffic across the city “While this is lower than pre-pandemic levels, we still need to take urgent action to ensure it does not return to previous levels which were damaging to everyone’s health. “In order to do this we need to reduce the number of cars on our road and encourage the switch to electric vehicles, travelling by public transport, or walking and cycling wherever possible.”
Source: This news is originally published by oxfordmail