Sunday, 3 February 2013

Monitoring Air Quality on the Estuary

Earlier this week Professor Duncan Laxen presented his first report looking into air quality in and around the Mersey Estuary.  Cllrs Lynn Riley, Les Ford and I had lobbied Peel and Covanta hard for this forum to be created.  We want to be sure that, as and when and if the Ince Resource Recovery Park is built that it doesn't have any harmful effects on our air quality.

Of course the only way you can judge this in any meaningful way is to first to gauge what the air quality is like now.  Anecdotally if you ask our local doctors they'll tell you that we have quite a high level of respiratory problems around here - however public health officials have assured me previously that there isn't anything to be concerned about.

Professor Laxen's first report looked at existing reported data.  He will follow up this report with another one that will make specific recommendations as to what substances we should test for and where.

Here are some interesting extracts from the report:

This map shows the area being studied, where the Ince Resource Recovery is to be located and the present locations of air monitoring being carried out by CWaC.

This map shows the location of the air monitoring equipment presently in Frodsham with the table showing the data collected.

The table below shows that, with the exception of one data point the level of Nitrogen Dioxide is beneath the government's objective and limit value.  The level reported is for NOx (in other words for all the different oxides of nitrogen).  NOx pollution is typically associated with road traffic.  It is therefore perhaps not surprising that the higher values are associated with where traffic is heaviest.  The high level reported at the junction of Fluin Lane and Bridge Lane is no doubt associated with that busy road junction and the nearby road crossing and bus stop.  Not only do you get relatively high volumes of traffic you also get the extra revving and emissions associated with stopping and starting.

High level of NOx can be associated with respiratory problems such as asthma.

This map shows, in graphic format the background NOx levels in 2010.  It is not surprising that the higher concentrations are associated with the more heavily trafficked roads.

This map shows the background concentrations of PM10s in 2010.  PM10s are very small particulates - again very much associated with road traffic.  The higher levels again largely follow the road corridors.

Levels of air borne pollution are inevitably influenced by the wind.  The charts below are wind roses taken from a number of locations in and around the estuary.  The charts show what all of us already recognise - that the majority of the wind and the stronger winds typically blow from the south and west with relatively little wind blowing from the north and east.

I have asked what effects Frodsham (Overton) and Helsby Hills have.  The hills stand due south of both Frodsham and Helsby potentially sheltering us from the southerly winds.  But do the hills also channel the wind flows around us - especially winds from the west?
I've spared you much of Professor Laxon's  report.  His final table is perhaps the most important and gives us all food for thought.

This is his provisional assessment of what he thinks we could look at in future studies.  His first studies have shown that there are only 3 compounds/substances where existing data shows that relevant objective limits or standards may be being breached somewhere in and around the estuary.

Professor Laxon is going to produce a second report advising us what further work should be done and where we should locate our air monitoring equipment.

I have suggested that we locate both weather monitoring stations and pollution monitors and our primary and secondary schools.