Good air quality is essential for our health and the environment. Air becomes polluted when it contains substances that can have a harmful effect on the environment and / or our health.
The Department of the Environment published the original National Air Quality Strategy (NAQS) in May 1997. This set out a framework of standards and objectives for ambient air pollutants that have the potential to cause harm to human health,
All these pollutants are associated with local air quality problems and further information is available in the downloads section.
The aim of the NAQS was to reduce the impact on human health of these pollutants by reducing airborne concentrations of the pollutants. The NAQS identified air quality standards for these pollutants based on recommendations from the Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards (EPAQS) or World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance where no EPAQS recommendation existed. The NAQS set out specific target dates by which time these standards should be achieved.
The NAQS together with these standards and objectives have been periodically reviewed by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) (now DEFRA). The NAQS has now evolved into the Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (AQS). The goals of this strategy are the same as for the NAQS and incorporate European Directives.
The Air Quality Regulations 2000 set standards and objectives for seven pollutants that are associated with local air quality. The objectives are aimed at reducing the health effects of the pollutants to negligible levels.
The role of the Local Authority
Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 requires each local authority to review and assess the air quality in its area. The Air Quality Regulations 1997 define a phased approach to the review and assessment.