Glasgow's Air Quality Annual Progress Report for 2023 has been published.
The report which covers the previous calendar year (2022), provides an overview of data and trends across the city, highlighting a varied picture, reflective of the impact on pollution levels of fewer pandemic restrictions.
Air quality is regularly reviewed and assessed by the council so that current and future concentrations of air pollutants can be compared against legal requirements known as objectives.
While some monitoring showed a small reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels from 2021, monitoring by diffusion tube within the city centre showed an average 20% rise from the previous year - with exceedances of the annual mean objective for this pollutant recorded at four locations including Gordon Street and Hope Street.
The main source of air pollution comes from road traffic. Airborne particulate matter is more heavily influenced by non-local effects; however, nitrogen dioxide is more directly attributable to local traffic volumes and engine type, particularly diesel engines.
Both short and long-term exposure to air pollution can lead to a wide range of diseases, including asthma and respiratory infections, with evidence also now emerging of links to other conditions including type 2 diabetes and dementia.
The Air Quality Report considers monitoring data available since the last round of review and assessment, as well as evaluating the impact from various potential sources of pollution.
Previous rounds of review and assessment have seen Glasgow declare four Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs), where statutory air quality objectives for nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter were not being met.
Two of these AQMAs have since been revoked, with a third revocation pending - highlighting that improvements in air quality continue to be achieved across the city. The AQMA declared for the city centre however remains in place.
Revocation of an AQMA is only possible where the annual mean objective for nitrogen dioxide is achieved for at least three consecutive years, and where monitoring data demonstrates that further exceedances of the objectives are unlikely to occur.
The report illustrates that since 2020 when pandemic restrictions were at their height, overall monitoring shows a subsequent year on year increase in the number of locations where there were exceedances of the nitrogen dioxide objective. A rise in levels of this pollutant was recorded at all city centre locations monitored by diffusion tube between 2021 and 2022.
Cllr Angus Millar, City Convener for Transport and Climate said: "The Air Quality Annual Progress Report provides an overview of data and trends across the city, highlighting the concerning levels of harmful air pollution throughout Glasgow city centre in 2022, the latest calendar year for which data is available.
"Poor air quality contributes to hundreds of deaths in Glasgow a year, as well as exacerbating long term health inequalities and the health conditions of thousands of Glaswegians. While Glasgow has made significant progress on improving air quality in recent years, the latest figures clearly demonstrate a sharp and unwelcome bounce back from the pandemic with nitrogen dioxide levels up by an average of a fifth.
"This rise in air pollution in 2022 is unacceptable and, as the Annual Report concludes, it is clear that continued interventions are required to improve air quality and meet statutory standards."
The Air Quality Annual Progress Report which covers the previous calendar year, was presented to the Net Zero and Climate Progress Monitoring Committee today, where elected members noted the new data available on pollution levels, the impact of fewer pandemic restrictions on pollution levels, and the trends in concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, particularly within the city centre.