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Air Pollution

Air pollution is a major environmental pressure that is felt at a range of scales, from local, to regional, to global.  Air pollutants can affect biodiversity and ecosystem services, harm human health and contribute to climate change.  Air pollution has caused widespread changes to sensitive ecosystems in the UK.

There have been significant advances to improve air quality in the UK and globally.  However, the effects of nitrogen deposition and ground-level ozone on ecosystems are still a concern for habitats and wildlife, because many of the thresholds for protection of ecosystems are exceeded.  This makes it important to understand how the changes in atmospheric pollutant concentrations and deposition interact with habitat function, extent and condition. 

JNCC’s Role on Air Pollution

JNCC works in partnership with the country nature conservation bodies (CNCBs) through an Inter-agency Air Pollution Group (IAPG).  JNCC also closely collaborates with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and the devolved administrations, as well as research bodies.

JNCC's air pollution work focuses on:

  • providing advice to Government, its agencies and other bodies on the impact air pollution has on biodiversity;
  • providing evidence, sometimes through commissioned research, about the impacts of air pollution on biodiversity; and
  • promoting better integration of policies on air pollution and biodiversity.

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Air Pollution Data and Evidence

JNCC has funded a range of research projects, with partners, that aim to provide evidence of the impacts of air pollution and to put in place methods to assess these effects. A number of reports and resources are available.  

The UK-Air website provides details of UK policy context, emissions inventories and pollutant levels in the UK.  UK-Air also holds key evidence reports for air pollution effects on people, habitat and wildlife that can be accessed through the UK-Air Library.

In addition, the Air Pollution Information System (APIS) provides a comprehensive source of information on pollution and its impact on habitats and species and assessment information for protected sites.  APIS has been developed and maintained by JNCC, the country nature conservation bodies, the UK environment agencies and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH).  It provides site-specific information on deposition and critical loads.

Legislation, policies and strategies specific to air pollution can be found on relevant UK devolved administration, UK country nature conservation body (CNCB), or local authority websites.

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