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The council is committed to improving the quality of the air we that breathe in Maidstone and is taking the lead in implementing a variety of projects to achieve this goal. Our Low Emission Strategy sets out in detail all of the things we are doing to improve air quality and reduce emissions as a whole.
Air pollution is the contamination of the air by noxious gases and minute particles of solid and liquid matter (particulates) in concentrations that are harmful to health. The major sources of air pollution are car, bus and lorry engines, power and heat generation, industrial processes, and the burning of solid waste.
Where we monitor a level of pollution that is higher than the national objective (target) levels, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 says that we have to declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). In Maidstone, there are a number of areas where the annual mean objective for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has been exceeded and therefore an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) has been declared. Our AQMA can be seen here.
When a council declares an AQMA it then has to develop an action plan setting out how it will try to improve air quality. The council has gone further than it has to by adopting not just an action plan but a Low Emissions Strategy which covers how the council will minimise its own emissions as well.
The council also has to send an annual report to the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) telling them what the latest air quality levels are and what progress we have made in our action plan. You can see our latest annual report and older ones:
Poor air quality is known to be harmful to both short term and long term health as it can affect the respiratory system so it affects how well people breathe It has also been linked with a lot of other health problems such as heart disease and even lower IQ. Some people are more at risk than others from poor air quality such as young children, the elderly and people who have heart or respiratory problems such as asthma.
On days when there are high levels of air pollution some people might find that their eyes get sore, others might find they cough more or even that breathing is uncomfortable.
When pollution levels are high you should stop or reduce physical activity near busy roads where pollution is highest, choose a different route to walk to school or work away from busy roads and use your inhaler more often if you need to.
Click here to get free email alerts for when air pollution is predicted to be high.
We measure air quality using diffusion tubes which are small plastic tubes that we change every month and send to be analysed, there are over 60 of these around the Maidstone Borough. We also use continuous monitoring stations that measure air quality all of the time very accurately. We have one of these in Upper Stone Street and one in Detling to measure the background levels away from any pollution. You can see information from the tubes and the stations on the Kent Air website however please remember that this is raw data which needs to be ratified before it should be used. The fully ratified data for each year is in our annual reports.
The level of pollution in the atmosphere is rated using a nationally agreed index system (The Daily Air Quality Index).
The work we are doing is mainly in delivering the actions that are in the Low Emissions strategy.
We hope that this will inspire people to protect their own health as well as to do simple things to reduce air pollution.
Some of the projects the Environmental Protection Team have been working most on recently are:
For more information visit our Clean Air for Schools page.
Retrofitting 17 buses with equipment to reduce their emissions by up to 80% in partnership with bus companies, Kent County Council and Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council.
We need everyone to play a part if we going to make enough of a difference to reduce air pollution to below the target levels. There are some simple things that everyone can do:
We are working closely with other local authorities and Kent County Council as part of the Kent and Medway Air Quality Partnership (KAMAQP) to develop best practice in tackling air pollution in Kent. We try to work on joint projects where we can to improve air quality across the county. You can find out more about the partnership at Kent Air.
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