Statement from Plymouth City Council RE World Health Organisation air pollution report

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published a list of cities across the world and air quality monitoring data for two different small particulates, PM10 and PM2.5

Some media outlets have, incorrectly, reported that Plymouth is one of the “worst” for air pollution on the list.

Professor Kelechi Nnoaham, Director of Public Health for Plymouth City Council, said: “It is completely inaccurate for the media to say that Plymouth has one of the worst air pollution levels, and I would like to reassure the people of Plymouth and our visitors that this is definitely not the case.

“The list published by WHO includes 2,973 cities/towns around the world – with number one being the ‘worst’ of which, Plymouth was 2,012 on the list – so it is completely misleading to say we are the worst. Even on the list of 52 in the UK we are at number 21, so again, about in the middle in terms of air quality – though we recognise there is always room for improvement.

“DEFRA monitor our air pollution levels and we can confirm that the city’s air pollution levels remained well within the statutory air quality standard for PM10, and for the target of working toward reducing emissions and concentrations of PM 2.5. The concentration of an air pollutant is given in micrograms (one-millionth of a gram) per cubic meter air or µg/m3 .For PM10 the annual mean should not exceed 40µg/m3 and the latest data available, for 2015, was well within this at 18 µg/m3, and for PM2.5 Plymouth’s level was well below 25µg/m3 at 11 µg/m3.

“We take air quality extremely seriously and work hard to improve air quality in the city, carrying out regular reviews and assessments of air quality in Plymouth. Many of the Council’s departments play an important part in this, from public health to housing, transport, and through our work with partners such as Plymouth Energy Community, and improving air quality also forms a key part of our Plymouth Plan.

“As well as monitoring the air quality in these areas, we proactively work to improve the air quality and minimise pollution in the following ways:

  • Our Local Transport Plan and Air Quality Action Plan look at implementing measures to reduce the impact of air pollution. The Action Plan is part of the air quality review and assessment report that we submit annually to DEFRA.
  • We regulate industrial processes under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, where certain types of processes operate within Plymouth and are given strict emissions limits and require particular abatement to control the release of air pollution to the environment.
  • Plymotion is a council initiative that aims to make it easier for you to get around Plymouth by bus, by bike and on foot. Through Plymotion we are offering various incentives to encourage you to try greener, cheaper and healthier ways of getting from A to B.
  • PEC has also reduced air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels through increasing the amount of community-owned clean energy generated in the city. Renewable energy avoids the release of harmful pollutants into the air. 30 schools and community organisations have received free community-owned solar roofs. A ground-mounted solar array that will generate the equivalent clean energy to power 1000 homes will be completed by April with a chance for the local community to invest in the project coming soon.

More information on PEC’s work is available at

For more information on the Plymouth Plan click here:

More information on Plymotion is available here: