Call for evidence on fine particulate matter air quality targets

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The government’s independent Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG) has today launched a call for evidence on modelling fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations in England.

Advice from scientific experts will be sought on the insights that modelling of PM2.5 concentrations can provide. This includes the range of PM2.5 concentrations that could be expected under different future scenarios, the main drivers of future PM2.5, differences in population exposure and the level of uncertainty in modelling results.

Responses to the call for evidence will inform the modelling process for developing new legally binding air quality targets that will be set through the Environment Bill, which is currently passing through the House of Commons.

The Bill requires the government to set an annual mean PM2.5 concentration target and long-term air quality target, with the two targets working in tandem to drive action to reduce PM2.5 concentrations. In the recently published targets policy paper it was proposed that this long-term target is a PM2.5 population exposure reduction target.

The UK has made significant progress in reducing emissions of PM2.5, which is the pollutant most damaging to human health, with a reduction of 78% since 1970.

The AQEG, together with the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP), are providing independent technical advice to Defra throughout the development of the air quality targets. The fully attributed responses will be published when Defra sets out its proposed targets for public consultation.

These targets will sit alongside our Clean Air Strategy, the most ambitious air quality strategy in a generation which aims to reduce air pollution and save lives. The Strategy includes new and ambitious goals, legislation, investment and policies which will help us to clean up our air more quickly and effectively. It has been praised by the World Health Organization as “an example for the rest of the world to follow”.

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