Where does NOx come from?

We release nitrogen oxides (NOx) when we drive our vehicles and when we generate electricity. Because the UK’s move to natural resources has led to a reduction in NOx emissions from electricity generation, road transport is the main source of NOx in our cities and towns today. The biggest, and oldest, diesel vehicles have the worst emissions; modern petrol vehicles are cleaner, releasing less NOx.

Where does Ozone come from?

What makes ozone build up in the lower atmosphere? Ozone is not released into the air directly. Instead, it is formed when NOx emitted from traffic and other artificial sources combines with chemicals in the air called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When these substances meet in the presence of sunlight, ozone is created.

Where does particulate matter come from?

We may associate air pollution with burning something, but this is not always the case with particulate matter (PM). The physical friction that happens when a vehicle drives down the road causes tyre wear and releases PM whether the car is powered by burning fuel or by electricity.

Though some sources of PM are natural, others are caused by us – woodsmoke is a significant source in the UK. Some farming practices, such as excessive fertiliser use, contribute to PM levels. Chemicals from fertilisers react with vehicle emissions to form PM.

What is the impact of air pollution?

Each year, poor air quality leads to 7 million deaths around the world. In the West Midlands alone, it contributes to an estimated 500-1000 deaths each year. This issue has a direct impact on our local community. Air Pollution is the single biggest environmental risk to our health.

Air pollution reduces our life expectancy by an average of up to six months and is particularly dangerous for the most vulnerable – the very young and very old.

Poor air quality also has an impact on the economy. The financial cost of air pollution in the West Midlands is over £500 million a year. This comes from the direct cost of treating those with air quality related health issues and indirect cost such as lost productivity.

When does poor air quality occur?

Road transport is a leading cause of air pollution, so it’s natural to assume that the worst time of day for air quality would be rush hour. Air pollution builds up cumulatively over the course of the day and air quality is slightly worse in the evening.

Where does poor air quality occur?

We often think air pollution as only being a problem in large city centres, but air quality is highly localised. This means that there can be pockets of poor air quality even within smaller settlements.

How does air pollution impact our health?

We naturally picture the impact of air pollution on our lungs and airways. That’s true for its short-term effects, like coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Asthma can be triggered by immediate exposure to poor air quality too.

Over the long term, air pollutants can also damage the heart, blood vessels and brain. Poor air quality can be contributed to a baby’s low birth weight and reduce a child’s lung development, an effect that will stay with them for a lifetime.

How can we improve the air quality in Warwick District?

You can find out about some of the initiatives we're undertaking to improve air quality in the area, and how you can play your part.