Yesterday (5th June) was World Environment Day and South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils announced that following lockdown, there has been a marked reduction in air pollution in our districts – down by nearly 60% in one location.
The lack of traffic and the increase in walking and cycling has helped improve the local air quality across southern Oxfordshire.
The councils’ Environmental Protection team has been monitoring the effect of the lockdown and the accompanying lack of traffic on the levels of pollution, focussing on the areas designated as Air Quality Management Areas.
There has been a marked reduction (see graphs and table below) in Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in our air. NO2 is created by the burning of fuel from our cars and can be the cause of breathing difficulties, especially for those with existing respiratory conditions such as asthma. It can also contribute toward a number of other negative impacts on our health.
The councils’ Active Communities team are working with partners to increase cycling and walking throughout the districts. Last month the government promised to fund and work with local authorities across the country to help increase walking and double the amount of cycling by 2025 – see the government webpage.
The graphs and corresponding figures in the table below show the concentration of NO2 in the air (the number of micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre of air). They also show the difference in the air quality in 2020 (with pollution levels decreasing during the months of lockdown) compared with the same time last year.