Living here is a breath of fresh air

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Air quality in Argyll and Bute is very good, with low pollution indicators, a major factor for the wellbeing of its residents and visitors.

The planning, protective services and licensing committee heard this good news last week.

The government introduced its strategy Cleaner Air for Scotland – The Road to a Healthier Future in 2015 and also has national objectives in place for eight major air pollutants.

Under the Environment Act 1995, Local Authorities were given the statutory responsibility to assess local air quality and support the government’s duties and aims to improve health.

In Argyll and Bute, an absence of industry hot spots means the major potential source of pollution, which might impact on human health, is produced by motor vehicles.

Where there is a higher traffic flow, in town centres, a network of nitrogen dioxide diffusion tubes monitor those areas expected to have higher concentrations.

This is done by the council’s Environmental Health service.

Measured annual trends show that nitrogen dioxide levels are well below the annual objective and trends are either level or falling at all sites where tubes have been established long enough to plot relationships.

Policy lead for planning and regulatory services, Councillor David Kinniburgh, said: “This is yet another great selling point for Argyll and Bute. This is a healthy place for families to live, work and visit.

“While we would expect that our more rural towns and villages would escape air pollution, it’s encouraging to hear that our large towns are also well below the annual objectives for nitrogen dioxide.

“We will be working hard to ensure that it stays that way.”

Air pollutants, which are largely invisible, can be harmful to human health and the natural environment. They disproportionately affect the most vulnerable members of society including the very young, elderly or people with medical conditions.

Reducing air pollution improves habitats in the wider environment.

In 2010, in Scotland, 2,000 premature deaths were associated with fine particulate matter.