Brief respite from January’s recording breaking wet weather caused air pollution problems over eastern England. Cold still nights on the 20th and 21st meant that air pollution built up in towns and cities. In Leeds airborne particle concentrations reached 8 on the government’s ten point air quality index. Hull and York experienced similar problems, along with Chesterfield and Nottingham.
The same cold nights caused air pollution to reach level 6 across much of London with Brixton Road being a hotspot, reaching level 7. Here air pollution is linked to the high number of buses using the road. One solution being pursued in London is to fit clean-up technology to older buses along the most polluted routes. A different solution is planned for Brighton and Hove where older buses will be banned from the city centre. Although aimed at the central shopping and tourist areas, the cleaner buses will travel throughout the city reducing air pollution exposure for several thousand residents who live alongside roads that exceed legal limits.
Although windy weather is good for dispersing air pollution it is not beneficial everywhere. Strong westerly winds can blow air pollution from Port Talbot steel works into the nearby town. This caused airborne particles to reach level 9 at the start of January. Although technology can be fitted to clean up pollution from tall chimneys it is harder to clean up the pollution from the open processes used to make steel and to handle slag, and also to stop the wind blowing dust from stockpiles and from the many tonnes of materials that are moved around the site.