Air pollution: why is air quality bad today and how is air quality in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK?

Scotland has some of the best air quality in the UK, but dangerously high levels of air pollution still persist in some areas. Photo: rabbit75_cav/Canva Pro.

As the population grows, more resources are needed to support the growing number of people.

Scotland has some of the best air quality in the UK, but there are still areas of concern.

Air pollution is expected to worsen significantly in warmer weather. Photo: V2images/Getty Images/Canva Pro.

Here’s a look at what causes air pollution in Scotland and where the most and least affected areas are located.



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What is air pollution?

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution refers to air pollution due to the presence of substances in the atmosphere that are harmful to human health and other living beings.

Air pollution is typically caused by pollutant emissions from sources such as factories, domestic heating and transport.

Why is air quality bad today?

While air quality in Scotland today is better than at any time since the Industrial Revolution, pollution levels can still fluctuate.

For example, on March 24, 2022, a high air pollution alert was issued in London, with Mayor Sadiq Khan urging people to stay at home where possible, especially if they have respiratory conditions such as asthma.

Weather conditions can also influence air pollution: cold weather makes pollutants more visible in the air, and warm rising air often lifts pollutants off the ground and off city streets.

Humidity and heavy clouds can also reduce ozone pollution by blocking sunlight, and moisture breaks down layers of pollution that have already formed.

Where is the cleanest air in Scotland?

Based on data from Scotland Air Quality, a research organization funded by the Scottish Government, and UK Air’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ranked Scottish cities according to their AQI. points.

These scores range from zero to 500, with higher numbers indicating higher levels of air pollution and thus a greater health problem.

Anything below 50 indicates good air quality, 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 150 is unhealthy for sensitive groups, 151 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 is very unhealthy, and 301 and above is considered dangerous.

In Scotland, only two cities have “good” air quality: Renfrew with 8 and Dunfermline with 41.

The worst area in Scotland is Greenock with a score of 122 meaning it is unhealthy for sensitive groups and therefore “members of sensitive groups may experience health effects” and “the general public is less likely to be affected”.

Edinburgh has a score of 82, which means “moderate” air quality, i.e. “air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, especially those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.”

Similarly, Glasgow has a score of 97, meaning that while air quality is worse than Edinburgh, the AQI classification and health warning remain the same.

How is the air quality in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK?

On average, air quality in Scotland is better than in England and elsewhere in the UK.

However, Health Protection Scotland estimates that in 2018 approximately 1,700 premature deaths in Scotland each year could be attributed to air pollution.

There are also a number of specific areas that are in breach of the annual average target limits for nitrogen dioxide in Scotland, the UK and the EU.

– Glasgow Hope Street

– Nicholson Street in Edinburgh

– Academy Street in Inverness.

– Dundee Lochi Road in Dundee

– Edinburgh St. John’s Road

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