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How we check air quality

We have a legal obligation to review and assess air quality across the county, as set out in Section 82 of the Environment Act 1995.

How air quality is reviewed and assessed

We complete an annual review and assessment to determine whether specific areas of the county meet national air quality standards and EU limits for various pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide and particulates (pollutants from road traffic emissions). A full list of pollutants which are reviewed and assessed and the National Air Quality Objectives is available:

Icon for pdf National Air Quality Objectives and European Directive Limit and Target Values (PDF, 24.1kb)

Reporting air quality standards

We must carry out an air quality review and assessment and report on the status of air quality across the county to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) annually. The Annual Air Quality Status report will provide:

  • A summary of progress of the implementation of the air quality improvement measures within an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP);
  • The details of air quality monitoring data for the previous year.

The most recent  Icon for pdf 2019 Air Quality Annual Status Report (PDF, 4.6mb) . Our 2023 Air Quality Annual Status Report will be available during May 2024.

All maps in these documents are reproduced from Ordnance Survey material with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office © Crown copyright. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. Durham County Council.  LA 100049055. 2016.

What happens if air quality standards are exceeded

Once we are satisfied that the outcome of monitoring and detailed assessment work and there is a likely breach of an air quality objective, then we must declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).

Once declared, we must then work with local residents, partners and others such as transport users and providers, to agree an action plan to improve air quality in the area covered by the AQMA. The action plan is a detailed document that sets out proposals to improve air quality in a variety of ways. These may include transport planning, land use, energy management, healthy living and environmental initiatives.

You can find more information related to air quality in specific areas of the county:

Further information

We can provide further information about air quality and pollution control. Please contact us for:

  • paper copies, or alternative formats, of any of the electronic reports on this page
  • information on previous review and assessment reports
  • any questions or concerns about air quality in the county answered
Contact us
Pollution Control
03000 261 016
Our address is:
  • Community Protection
  • Durham County Council
  • PO Box 617
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 9HZ