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Air Quality Review and Assessment

Local Air Quality Management LAQM

The Council has a statutory duty to periodically review and assess the air quality in its area. This involves comparing the measured or predicted pollutant levels against National Air Quality Standards and Objectives.

Objectives have been set for the following pollutants;

Ground Level Ozone (O3); Benzene; 1, 3 Butadiene; Lead; Carbon Monoxide (CO); Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2); Sulphur Dioxide (SO2); Particulate Matter less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH).

NB Ozone and PAH remain as national objectives not prescribed in regulation and presently remain outside the scope of Local Air Quality Management.

Objectives have been set at levels for which there would be no or extremely low risk to health.  More information on air pollution and the health affects.


Should the Council identify areas where there may be exceedances of these objectives, then it is required to carry out more detailed assessments. Should these exceedances still appear likely the Council has to designate the areas as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) and develop Action Plans, setting out how the authority intends to improve the air quality in order to achieve the objective levels.


In April 2009 Bedford Borough Council commenced the fourth round of review and assessment with an  Updating and Screening Assessment (USA). The USA is used to identify those matters that have changed since the last review and assessment, which might lead to a risk of an air quality objective being exceeded. The report confirmed that the annual mean for nitrogen dioxide is widely exceeded within the new AQMA 5. The report also confirmed improvements in air quality in Great Barford and Stewartby following the construction of the Great Barford  and the closure of Stewartby brickworks.


The Town Centre AQMA 5 was declared on 6th November 2009, the order also revoked AQMQ 1 (Stewartby for Sulphur Dioxide), AQMA 2 and 3 (High Street and Prebend Street as the new AQMA encompassed these areas) and AQMA 4 (Great Barford for Nitrogen Dioxide).


To view all Bedford Boroughs review and assessment reports please click here.


Monitoring within the BoroughAQ Monitoring Station

The Environmental Health department carry out air quality monitoring around the Borough to asses the air quality. This includes the use of diffusion tubes, small plastic tubes that absorb pollutants, which are then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results obtained are monthly averages and are used to give long term trends in levels of pollutants in an area.

Real time analysers are also used that accuraDiffusion tubetely measure levels of pollutants in the air constantly.

Bedford currently uses 65 diffusion tubes to monitor nitrogen dioxide and 2 real time analysers to monitor nitrogen dioxide, located on the Prebend Street and Lurke Street. 



Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Air Quality Network

The Herts and Beds Air Quality Monitoring Network was formed in 1999 by all the District/Borough Councils in the two counties and ERG (Kings College London).  Luton Airport also joined the Network in 2003.


The Network was formed principally to collate and report air quality monitoring results from across the region. The network's aims are:

  • to provide the public with easy and free access to information about the quality of the air that they are breathing
  • to provide regular reports comparing air quality across the region
  • to assist in developing local and national strategies to improve air quality
  • to set up an archive of monitoring results
  • to ensure a consistently high standard of monitoring data across the region. 


The equipment used to accurately monitor air pollutants is complex and very sensitive. Consequently, purchase and running costs of each continuous monitoring site are high. By sharing information across the network, the local authorities can create a more comprehensive and detailed picture of pollution levels throughout the two counties.


The Network maintains a joint website  Monitoring data and information on air quality can be viewed or downloaded.


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