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Frequently asked questions

How can I find out about air pollution in my local area?

How might air pollution affect me?

What can I do to reduce air pollution?

Do local authorities need to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment for air quality action plans?

Click here for answers to some more frequently asked questions.


How can I find out about air pollution in my local area?

First, from the air pollution public information service. This can be accessed by telephone (Freephone 0800 55 66 77) and on the UK-AIR website. The freephone service provide all the basic information - more detailed information can be found on the website.

Your local authority may also have information on air quality. Check with your Council's Environmental Health Department.


How might air pollution affect me?

If you are in reasonable health, the levels of air pollution we usually experience in Scotland are unlikely to have any serious short term effects. On the rare occasions when air pollution levels are high, some people may feel eye irritation, others may start to cough and some may find breathing deeply hurts. People with lung diseases or heart conditions are at greater risk, especially if they are elderly.

There is little evidence that air pollution itself causes asthma. If you already have asthma, you may find that air pollution triggers an attack, although infections and allergens are more likely to do so.

Further information can be found in the Air Pollution: What it means for your health leaflet.


What can I do to reduce air pollution?

Road vehicles are a major source of certain pollutants in urban areas.

Before using your car, ask yourself:

  • do I really need to make this journey?

  • could I walk or cycle instead of taking the car?

  • could I take a bus or a train?

  • are air pollution levels already high today?

If you must drive:

  • drive smoothly - you'll save fuel and your engine will also pollute less;

  • don't rev your engine unnecessarily;

  • maintain your car - keep your engine properly tuned and the tyres at the right pressure; and

  • turn off the engines when the car is stationary.

At home:

  • buy water-based or low solvent paints, varnishes, glues and wood preservatives

  • avoid burning solid fuels if possible

  • if you live in a smoke control area, burn only authorised smokeless fuels (your local authority can provide further advice)

  • avoid lighting bonfires. If you must do so, don't light them when pollution levels are high or while the weather is still and cold. Only burn dry material and never burn household waste, especially plastic, rubber, foam or paint.


Do local authorities need to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment for air quality action plans?

When considering whether a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is required for an air quality action plan, local authorities should in the first instance refer to paragraph 6.13 in the Local Air Quality Management policy guidance published in 2009.

As the environmental effects of implementing an action plan are likely to be greater than minimum, a local authority can expect to have to prepare a screening report, which summarises the likely environmental effects of implementing the action plan. This report would then be submitted to the Consultation Authorities seeking their views and opinions on the likely environmental effects.

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