25 Latest Air Pollution Statistics for the UK (2024)

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Written by: - Garden Design Expert

Nothing is better than standing outside and breathing in the clean, fresh air. But how clean is the air you breathe? These UK air pollution statistics will tell you!

UK Air Pollution Statistics & Facts

  1. Air pollution costs £20 billion to the UK economy annually. (Royal College of Physicians)
  2. 94% of land in the UK has some pollution above background levels even though roads occupy less than 1% of the country. (COPI)
  3. 97% of homes in the country exceed the WHO guidelines for air pollution. (WHO)
  4. Air pollution contributes to up to 36,000 deaths in the UK annually. (BHF)
  5. Air pollution might be behind around one in 50 heart attacks leading to admission to London hospitals. (St George’s Hospital)
  6. Annual mean nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations increased by 7% from 2020 to 2021. (UK Government)
  7. In 2021, annual mean concentrations of the toxic particulate matter PM2.5 increased by an overage of 0.6% at both urban and rural background sites. (UK Government)
  8. Air pollution from ammonia fell by 13% since 1990 but increased again in 2013. (UK Government)
  9. The Great Smog of 1952 covered London in heavy smog for four days, and an estimated 4,000 people died from air pollution. (BBC)
  10. On average, the UK had four days of ‘moderate’ or higher pollution at urban monitoring sites in 2021, decreasing from 10 in 2020. (UK Government)
  11. The UK ranks 94 out of 118 countries in the AQI country ranking for air pollution. (IQ Air)

Best & Worst Places for UK Air Pollution

  1. The UK met the limit value for hourly NO2 in all of its 43 air quality monitoring zones. (Defra)
  2. 33 zones also met the limit value for annual mean NO2, with 10 zones exceeding this limit. (Defra)
  3. According to WHO limits, the worst UK towns and cities for air pollution are Warrington, Bristol and Stanford-Le-Hope in 2021. (WHO)
  4. The areas with the best air quality for 2021 were Devon, Peak District and Mid-Wales. (WHO)
  5. The Greater London area, South Wales, the West Midlands and Glasgow have the highest levels of NO2. (Client Earth)
  6. The cleanest places concerning NO2 air pollution are the Scottish Borders and Highlands, and Preston and Blackpool urban areas in England. (IQ Air)
  7. 248 hospitals and 2,220 GP practices in the UK are in areas where air pollution exceeds the WHO limit for PM2.5. (BLF)
  8. Air pollution in London shouldn’t exceed a set limit of more than 18 times a year, but 59 of the 97 measurement sites broke the limit in 2016. (BFH)
  9. Annual mean concentrations of PM10 at the urban background and roadside locations fell 2.5% on average in 2021 from 2020. (UK Government)

UK Air Pollution: Causes

  1. 38% of the UK’s particulate emissions (PM) come from burning wood and coal in domestic open fires and solid fuel stoves. (UK Government)
  2. 16% of the UK’s particulate emissions are from industrial combustion (non-domestic burning). (UK Government)
  3. 35% of the UK’s nitrogen oxide emissions come from road transport and 22% from energy generation. (UK Government)
  4. NO2 concentrations at roadside sites are 26% greater during the working week compared to the weekend. (UK Government)
  5. 2021 levels of NO2 are still 20% lower than in 2019, primarily due to a massive reduction during the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. (UK Government)

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