What's air pollution?

Air pollution is a mix of harmful gases and tiny dust particles. Breathing it in can be very damaging.

Many urban areas have a problem with air pollution. It can be caused by lots of different things, from road traffic and industry to domestic wood burners.

Roadside air pollution

In Greater Manchester, some of the pollutants that are most harmful to our health are caused by road transport. Many of the vehicles on our local roads pump out fumes full of harmful gases and tiny particles.

Diesel vehicles pollute more than those that run on petrol and are the biggest source of harmful air pollution from transport.

In general, heavily used commercial and passenger vehicles produce higher levels of pollution per vehicle. This includes lorries, buses, vans, taxis and private hire vehicles.

Types of pollution

Two of the main types of pollution from roadside vehicles are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter.

NO2 is a harmful gas produced when fuel is burned.

  • Diesel vehicles are the largest source of roadside NO2.
  • Government has instructed Greater Manchester to develop a plan to reduce roadside NO2 levels.

Particulate matter is more commonly known as dust, dirt, soot or smoke.

  • It’s mainly caused by road traffic and burning fuel.
  • It can include soot, tiny bits of metal, dust from worn brakes and tyres, and waste from the road.

Greater Manchester’s proposals to reduce NO2 air pollution will also help reduce particulate matter. Greater Manchester has also made a commitment to meet the World Health Organisation’s guidelines for fine particulate pollution levels by 2030.

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