Air quality management

What are national air quality targets?

National air quality targets have been set for seven pollutants. The air quality standards can be found on DEFRA’s web site.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

Mostly associated with car exhaust fumes, this can affect breathing.

Sulphur dioxide (SO2)

Traditionally associated with sulphurous coal and fuel, this can affect breathing.

Particulates (particles smaller than 10µm across)

Associated with cars (especially diesels) and burning, this can have various health impacts.

Lead (Pb)

This used to be associated with leaded petrol; lead is toxic and can affect the nervous system.

1,3 Butadiene

This is associated with cars and can cause cancer.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

This is linked to inefficient burning of fuel


Associated with fuel burning and industry, this can cause cancer and has other health impacts.