Air quality

Do you know that air pollution is a public health risk on a similar scale to obesity? And that 25% of all car journeys in the UK are less than 2 miles? If all of these car journeys were walked instead it would save £16m in fuel and the population would burn an additional 3.6 billion calories!

If driving is essential, remembering to switch off the engine when stopped has been shown to cut peaks in pollution. For example, avoiding a busy road and walking down a side street can cut exposure to pollution by 20% or more!

Cars also gather pollution from the vehicle in front, meaning that car drivers can be exposed to significant pollution. One research project actually found that driver’s on the same route as cyclists were exposed to nine times more pollution!

What is our Air Quality like In Inverclyde?

Inverclyde Council has a duty under the Environment Act to review and assess the air quality in Inverclyde. This is done in relation to seven key pollutants which have an impact on human health. The levels are measured against national standards.

Air quality tubes
Diffusion tube

We currently monitor levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) using passive diffusion tubes which are located throughout the area.  You might see these on some of the roads or streets near to where you stay!

Air quality monitor
Air quality monitor

We also have an Automatic Air Quality Monitor which continuously records the levels of NO2, and particulate matter (PM10.). This unit is currently located in Greenock on the A8, between Ratho Street and the roundabout at McDonald's restaurant. The data from this site, along with data from other Scottish local authorities, is available on the Scottish Air Quality website.

To access this data and find out up to date information on the current air quality throughout Scotland please follow the external link on this page to visit the Scottish Air Quality Site.

Originally this automatic monitor was located in Dunlop Street near the roundabout on Inverkip Road, Greenock. It is proposed to move the unit to a new location in Gourock Park at the Larkfield Road junction sometime in 2017. This will ensure we get data from a number of key sites and make best use of the equipment we have.

Since the introduction of the statutory Review and Assessments in 1998, data from all of our monitoring sites have consistently shown that Air Quality Objectives are being met for all measured pollutants. The latest report is available to download from this page.

We are very proud of our air quality but we are always striving to improve. Here are some of the ways that you can help us -

Air quality step 1


Use your feet, take to the street

Walk, cycle, bus, train… However you like to travel, leave your car at home and take to the streets. As well as cutting down the amount of pollution you make, you can also get some exercise.
Air quality step 2


Switch your engine off when stationary

By turning off your car engine whenever you’re not moving – only when its safe for you and other road users to do so – you’ll help to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians. Sign up to the #noidling campaign for more info

Air quality step 3


Drive into the future

More than 80,000 people bought low polluting cars in 2016. When you upgrade your car, explore an electric or LPG model (to save on your road tax too). There are currently 11 electric charging points located throughout Inverclyde. Click here for more information.

Air quality step 4


Save your log-burner for the bleak midwinter

Wood burning stoves are becoming increasingly popular, but burning wood produces a lot of air pollutants.  If you live in one of Inverclyde’s 9 Smoke Control Areas (map available to download from this page) you must only burn authorised smokeless fuels. DEFRA have approved a list of appliances and fuels that can be used in Smoke Control Areas. These can be found on the DEFRA website (also available from external links on this page).

If you do not live within a smoke control area you are not required to use an authorised fuel or an exempt appliance but it is good practice to follow these guidelines. Complaints of smoke from domestic premises out with a smoke control area or smoke from bonfires whether they are on domestic or commercial premises may still be investigated in terms of the Statutory Nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. 

This website (available from external links on this page) has been developed by the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps with the aim of educating householders about correct operation and maintenance of wood burning stoves and open fires.

Additional Information

Know & Respond Scotland - The Free air pollution alert messaging system

Know Respond Logo

Know & Respond - Scotland is a free service that sends registered users an alert message if air pollution in their area is forecast to be moderate, high or very high.

The alert service is provided for anyone wishing to know about the quality of the air they breathe. It can be of particular benefit to people with medical conditions that may be affected by pollution, such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. It may also benefit people whose breathing gets worse when air pollution increases.

Every day around 2 pm, air quality forecasters issue a detailed pollution forecast for the following day. Under the scheme, anyone who lives or works in the Scotland can sign up to receive free air pollution alerts by mobile phone text message, voicemail or email.

To register for this service and for further information follow the external link on this page for Know & Respond.

Educate the Kids

The Scottish Air Quality Website has an Education section with fun activities for kids.  The website is as follows (also available from external links on this page).

Scottish Air Quality Website Education 1

The ‘Air Pollution Detectives’ is a fun way for children to learn about air pollutants as they join Maggie and Rabbie on their investigations.

Scottish Air Quality Website Education 2

The ‘Clean the Air’ section on this website is aimed at children aged 12 upwards but has a fun section where emissions can be calculated from various forms of transport.  Adults may like this too!

Scottish Air Quality Website Education 3


Page last updated: 7 August 2019