With all the talk of extending the airport, I thought it curious to start looking at Eastleigh’s Air Quality out of pure intrigue as there doesn’t immediately appear to be much talk of it.
I struggle to understand how the Airport extension can be justified when local Air Quality is already poor in some areas, and permitting more air traffic would absolutely increase more from both road, and air pushing it even more more into the wrong direction. This is about air quality though, not the runway extension.
Eastleigh Borough Council have an air quality action plan, which I’m sure some actions are already overdue (does anyone have an update on them?)
Eastleigh Borough Council has declared 4 AQMA areas. An AQMA means that, within that area, the levels of a certain pollutant are above those required by legislation for health reasons. Any declaration, in summary, means that further monitoring of that pollutant has to be undertaken and a plan has to be put in place to improve the air quality within it.
At the lower edge of the DEFRA scale (which Eastleigh looks to frequently hit), this usually means that “Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, who experience symptoms , should consider reducing strenuous physical activity, particularly outdoors.”
How is this not being taken more seriously?! This means some local people may be suffering more from conditions due to the bad air quality locally. I feel sure these people do not know that they are suffering due to this invisible bad air? Or am I reading this all wrong?
I note in the above air action plan one of the action points is “Work with Southampton Airport to minimise the impact of their operations on air quality”, I’m pretty sure this doesn’t mean “work with the airport to double air travel and pollutants”, so I’m not sure how this can be reconciled with the runway extension.
Air Quality Management Areas are declared below, in case you want to do your own research to add to the conversation.
In 2005 the Eastleigh area covered by AQMA is below:
The raw data from the stations setup to record the data from AQMA areas can be found below:
- Eastleigh AQMA Diffusion tube data collectors
- Eastleigh AQMA Data collectors
- Air quality alert service
Here’s some interesting data from the last 5 years, you can see things improving, then COVID!
|PM10 (not reference equiv.||40 ug/m3 as an annual mean||25||24||26||24||22|
|PM10 (not reference equiv.)||50 ug/m3 as a 24 hour mean, not to be exceeded more than 35 times a year||8||9||5||3||0|
|PM10 (not reference equiv.)||Capture Rate (%)||97||95||90||97||8|
|Nitrogen Dioxide||200 ug/m3 as a 1 hour mean, not to be exceeded more than 18 times a year||4||0||0||0||0|
|Nitrogen Dioxide||40 ug/m3 as an annual mean||40||37||37||38||25|
|Nitrogen Dioxide||Capture Rate (%)||95||94||99||45||60|
|PM10 Particulate||40 ug/m3 as an annual mean||22||21||23||21||18|
|PM10 Particulate||50 ug/m3 as a 24 hour mean, not to be exceeded more than 35 times a year||7||7||0||4||0|
|PM10 Particulate||Capture Rate (%)||97||95||90||97||62|
|PM2.5 Particulate||25 ug/m3 as an annual mean||9|
|PM2.5 Particulate||Capture Rate (%)||53|
Questions which immediately leap into my head are;
- Why is the capture rate dropping, do we suddenly care less? What’s going on there?
- Is the drop COVID and airport slowdown related?
- What would be the impact if we drastically grew airport traffic, and cars heading to the airport?
- Particular Matter 2.5 look only to have been measured for the last year.
Looking at the graphs of the pollution in town around The Point in Eastleigh, I can see Nitrogen Dioxide peaked around 70-80ug/m3 for 4 hours on the 31st between 7am and 11am. Goverment advice has more advice on what the acceptable limits are, and its within it… but lower is better, right?
In case you’re interested, the airport runway extension planning application report contains an air quality section to document its impact on Eastleigh’s air quality. Looks like the report is suggesting the NOx impact on air quality from Aircraft operations will be offset by improvements in cars (electric, etc). It also notes the Campbell road receptor is under-estimating results, which may affect the data above. The report does note Public Health England’s position that “currently there is no clear evidence of a safe level of exposure below which there is no risk of adverse health effects”.
So there you have it - we don’t know how much is harmful to the health of humans, but we might be increasing it!
What do you guys think - are you guys aware of how much harm the air around you can have? Are we doing enough to improve air quality, and can more be done?