Air pollution and frequently asked questions

Air pollution

Birmingham continues to be one of the UK’s city’s with the highest air pollution levels.

Over 1,000 deaths a year, in Birmingham alone, are caused by air pollution, mostly caused by road transport and the increased use of diesel vehicles.

Living near a busy road in Birmingham can increase risk of lung cancer by 4.1 percent. Furthermore poor air quality has been found to increase the risk of respiratory diseases, heart failure and many other negative health effects.

What is air pollution?

There are many types of air pollutant and many sources for them, but air pollution has two main parts: 

  • Exhaust fumes from vehicle engines contain a group of gases called nitrogen oxides. These include nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a harmful gas produced by burning fossil fuels like petrol and diesel.
  • Particulate matter (PM) is made up of partially-burned fuel – petrol or diesel – together with engine oils, tiny specks from worn tyres, brake discs and road dust

We have a legal duty to reduce levels of NO2 in the air to an average of 40μg/m3 as soon as possible. Once we reach that target, we want to continue to lower the amount of NO2 and Pm in the air as far as possible.

For detailed information please see our pollution pages on the Birmingham City Council website or download the attached information sheet on air quality and monitoring.

Air quality data for Birmingham

We now have a live tool that shows both current and historic air quality levels in Birmingham. You can now view the interactive map which is run by Birmingham City Council’s Environmental Health Service. This site also contains reports produced by Environmental Health on the state of the air in Birmingham.

For further information on the quality of the air in Birmingham please contact our Environmental Protection Team.