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Air quality

What is air pollution? Why is it important to control?

There are various pollutants that have harmful effects on human health and the environment.  Generally these pollutants are the products of combustion occurring from industrial processes and road traffic.

The most common pollutants along with health effects are listed below.

pollutants and health effects
PollutantHealth effect
Nitrogen DioxideHigh levels cause inflammation to the airways of the lungs.  Long term exposure can reduce lung function. Can enhance the effect of allergens in sensitive individuals.
Particulate MatterShort and long term are associated with respiratory and cardiovascular illness.
Sulphur dioxideCauses constriction of the airways of the lungs.
Carbon monoxideReduces the uptake of oxygen in the blood, this can lead to reduction of oxygen to the bodies tissues.
OzoneHigh concentration can irritate the eyes and nose.  Very high levels can cause inflammation to the airways of the lungs.

For a more detailed list of pollutants, sources and health effects, go to What are the causes of air pollution from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

What are we doing to improve air quality?

We aim to improve air quality within South Tyneside by:

1. Routine air quality monitoring

We monitor Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter (PM10) and (PM2.5) using continuous monitoring stations and non-continuous diffusion tubes; to ensure that there are no exceedances of national air quality and EU limit and target values. These are summarised in the National air quality objectives (Defra)

The monitoring stations operating within South Tyneside are:

Monitoring information

Monitoring station

Within Air Quality Management Area?

Boldon Lane, South Shields


Edinburgh Road, Jarrow


Tyne Dock, Port of Tyne, South Shields


2. Enforcing air quality laws

We enforce the air quality provisions under the Environmental Protection Act 1990; provision under the Clean Air Act 1993; we also regulate premises required to be permitted under the Local Authority Pollution Control Regime.

3. Ensuring air quality is considered for new development

An air quality assessment is required for certain new developments if they meet the air quality criteria under the Tyneside Validation Requirements 20161.03MB

If an air quality assessment provided for a new development indicates that it would have a detrimental effect on air quality, then appropriate mitigation measures will be discussed with the developer.

4. Traffic projects aiming at alleviating congestion


  • Lindisfarne and John Reid Road roundabouts (A194)
  • Arches junction improvements (A185/A194)

5. Promoting sustainable travel

Electric car charging points

There are a number of electric vehicle charging points across South Tyneside, see Electric car charging points.

To search all car charging points, visit National charge point registry.

Online journey planning

Plan a journey either by foot, bicycle or public transport using the Go Smarter Journey Planner.

Public transport

Discounted and multimodal tickets are often available for everyday journeys. You can contact individual operators for more information, or tickets are available for across Tyne and Wear from Nexus.


Across South Tyneside there is a range of freely available cycle parking for residents and visitors, and a comprehensive network of sustainable travel routes. To plan a journey, view the Go Smarter cycle routes map.

National Air Quality Strategy

In 2007 the government set out their latest National Air Quality Strategy with the aims of setting future policy, protecting public health and the natural environment, identifying current and future levels of air pollution, and setting out what everyone can do to improve air quality.

Every council has an important part to play in this. For some years South Tyneside has been working to assess local levels of a range of important pollutants to identify where action needs to be taken. Our aim is to ensure that our residents can benefit from the best air quality possible.

Air pollution in towns and cities was traditionally due to coal fires and heavy industry, but these days poor air quality is mainly due to high volumes of road traffic and congestion.

Air Quality Management Areas

The council reviews air quality conditions on an annual basis, so that we can identify any changes and take action where we consider air quality may exceed national targets.

Where national targets are exceeded, an Air Quality Management Area is designated, following which improvements in air quality will be initiated.

Over 200 councils in the UK have declared Air Quality Management Areas.

Currently, two areas of South Tyneside have been declared as Air Quality Management Areas, because observations show that Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels exceed the national objective value.

Air Quality Management Areas in South Tyneside are:

  • Boldon Lane, South Shields - A busy, narrow road. Queuing traffic close to housing is very common.
  • Leam Lane / Lindisfarne Roundabout, Jarrow - A major commuter route linking South Shields with the rest of Tyne and Wear. The highway is extremely busy, influenced by traffic on the Tyne Tunnel Approach Road, and suffers queuing traffic close to housing between Lindisfarne roundabout and the junction with John Reid Road.

How are we doing?

Since 2000 we have had a statutory duty for managing local air quality under the Environment Act 1995. We are required to carry out annual reviews and assessments of air quality in South Tyneside against standards and objectives prescribed in the National Air Quality Strategy. These standards are set to protect human health.

View the air quality reports:

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