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The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs†.

Executive Summary

Clean air is an essential ingredient of a good quality of life. People have a right to expect that the air they breathe will not harm them. We have come a long way since the smogs of the 1950's, and air quality in the UK is generally very good. But there are still sometimes unacceptably high levels of pollution which can harm human health and the environment. This Strategy describes the plans drawn up by the Government and the devolved administrations to improve and protect ambient air quality in the UK in the medium-term.

Our proposals aim to protect people’s health and the environment without imposing unacceptable economic or social costs. They form an essential part of our strategy for sustainable development, which has four main aims:

The Air Quality Strategy will be subject to regular review so that we can refine policy as we learn more and develop new techniques.

Accordingly, the Strategy’s objectives for particles (PM10), benzene and carbon monoxide were reviewed in 2000/01, in particular, to take account of the latest health evidence and advice on the impact of particles on people’s health and of developments in Europe.

An Addendum to the strategy was published in 2003 and incorporates tighter air quality objectives for particles, benzene and carbon monoxide into the Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It further introduces an objective for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in England, Scotland and Wales. The tighter objectives for particles and benzene supplement the objectives in the Air Quality Strategy; the new objective for carbon monoxide replaces the objective in the Strategy; the objective for PAHs is included in the Strategy for the first time.

Air Quality Objectives


Current Air Quality Strategy Objectives for the UK
(and EU limit values*)