Environmental problems Air quality

By law we have to review and assess air quality against the following pollutants:​

  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  • PM10 particulate matter
  • Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
  • Lead
  • Benzene
  • Ozone (O3)

The UK also has a target to reduce average concentrations of PM2.5 at urban background locations.For more information read the PM2.5 in the United Kingdom report by air quality expert group.

UK Air’s website has an explanation of the causes of air pollution.

We review these against 'acceptable limits' based on their known health effects.

If we expect higher pollutant levels, we must make and deliver an action plan to reduce them.

Currently we are within the acceptable limits for all of these pollutants except the annual concentration of nitrogen dioxide, which regularly exceeds the objective. Nitrogen dioxide levels are particularly high in the city centre and close to busy roads. By law, an air quality management area has been set-up to reflect this. We developed an air quality action plan. It sets out the measures we will take to achieve the objectives.

Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan 

Greater Manchester has high levels of air pollution on some local roads. This is like many areas across the country. It affects everyone’s health and is linked to early deaths. 

The government has directed GM to develop a Clean Air Plan. The plan must meet legal limits for nitrogen dioxide on local roads. GM must complete the plan as soon as possible and by 2026 at the latest. 

The GM-proposed investment-led Clean Air Plan does not include a charging Clean Air Zone. All GM local authorities have developed an investment-led plan. That would bring air quality within legal limits by 2025,which is faster than a Clean Air Zone. It would also do so without causing hardship to residents or businesses. 

If approved by the government, the Clean Air Plan would use government funding. We would use this funding in the city region for:

  • 64 zero-emission electric buses for the Bee Network to run in areas with poor air quality. 
  • Clean vehicle grants for all eligible GM-licensed taxis and private hire vehicle owners. 
  • Local measures to manage traffic flow 
  • Improve air quality on some roads in the centre of Manchester and Salford. 

If the government approves the Clean Air Plan no vehicle would be charged to drive in a Clean Air Zone in GM.

You can keep up to date on developments with the Clean Air Plan and sign up for updates at cleanairgm.com 

The impact of poor air quality on health

Every year over a hundred people in Manchester die because of toxic air. Toxic air affects everyone. For some, it can be deadly. Those at higher risk include:

  • children, 
  • pregnant women,
  • older people, 
  • and people with medical conditions such as asthma, heart attack, and COPD.

Improving air quality could help vulnerable people in Manchester.

Our air quality is slowly improving, but we have to act. Everyone has a part to play. Together we can make Manchester a better, healthier place to live.

Read our Action plan: what we are doing; and

You can also read our Action plan: what you can do.

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