Emissions of important air pollutants in the UK

01 March 2022

Article: 56/810

On 18 February 2022, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) updated their report on emissions of air pollutants in the UK, covering the levels and trends in emissions of six air pollutants, with statistics covering the period from 1970 to 2020. Data comes from the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI), which is compiled using internationally agreed methods and a wide range of survey and administrative data sources including sources from government departments, agencies and commercial organisations.

Air pollution is a local, regional and international problem caused by the emission of pollutants, which either directly or through chemical reactions in the atmosphere lead to negative impacts on human health and ecosystems.

There are many sources of air pollution, including, but not limited to, power stations, transport, household heating, agriculture and industrial processes. The NAEI provides estimates of the number of different pollutants that are emitted into the air each year from human activity in the UK. Knowledge of the sources of pollution aids the development of strategies to reduce air pollution from human activities and thereby reduce the impact of pollution on health and the environment.

The report covers UK emissions of:

  • particulate matter (PM10)
  • particulate matter (PM2.5)
  • nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  • ammonia (NH3)
  • non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs)
  • sulphur dioxide (SO2)

Source: DEFRA, 21 February 2022