96  Atmospheric emissions


Air pollution can have insidious effects on human beings’ and animals’ lungs and skin, plants and buildings and even (in the case of fluorides), bones. The adverse health effects vary with the type of pollutant, its concentration, the duration of exposure and the state of health and development of the affected person or animal. Air pollution is often invisible (note that the white "plumes" (clouds) from factory chimneys are usually water vapour). It can arise from "point sources" like factories, or from "non-point sources" such as widespread use of smoky fires or busy roads. The Environment Agency is responsible for controlling all the pollution from over 2,000 of the potentially most polluting industrial processes in the country, such as power stations, cement works, steel works, etc; these are known as "Part A Processes". Local Authority Environment Health Officers are responsible for controlling pollution from the smaller and potentially less polluting industrial and commercial premises, the monitoring of general air quality and the control of nuisances from smoke, steam, smell, dust, grit and fumes.

The Environment Act 1995 requires the Secretary of State to draw up a National Air Quality Strategy setting standards on air quality, and clear objectives and measures to be taken to achieve them. This has yet to be fully implemented. Under various UK regulations, there are requirements to monitor ozone, emissions of volatile organic compounds from petrol storage and distribution sites, etc, and under EU legislation there are limit values on emissions from large combustion plant and air quality limit values for key pollutants.

The Environment Protection Act in the context of Part A processes, incorporates the concept of Best Practicable Environment Option (BPEO). For any pollutant this is the option that either prevents or causes the minimum adverse impact in air, water or on land, taking the environment as a whole. For the 2,000 potentially most polluting processes that the Environment Agency oversees, the concept which is applied in setting conditions upon authorisations is Best Available Technique not Entailing Excessive Cost (BATNEEC) - the companies prepare costings of different pollution control options and agree what is appropriate under these tests with the inspectors.

Many companies think that they are allowed to burn wastes on their premises. This is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act. Quite apart from the Duty of Care (see section 500), the law prohibits emissions of dark smoke from the burning of matter in connection with any trade or industrial process. (Clean Air Act 1993 s.2) There are some exemptions from the Clean Air Act only, but note that even if they apply, the law says that there must be supervision by someone authorised by the owner of the premises and usually care taken to minimise dark smoke and evidence that there is no other reasonably safe and practicable method of disposing of the matter. These exemptions are:

a) demolition wastes such as timber (but no rubber, flock or feathers)
b) relaying or laying tar, pitch, asphalt, etc.
c) and some relatively rare cases - research into fire fighting; containers which have contained agricultural or veterinary pesticides; carcasses of animals under the Diseases of Animals Act 1950; explosives under the Explosives Act 1875.

Many areas of the county are subject to Smoke Control Orders under the Clean Air Act 1993. In these areas (usually urban areas where it is important to minimise pollution) it is an offence to burn fuels which emit smoke from the chimney of any building, so that only authorised fuels can be used; coal, oil and wood can only be burnt on an "exempt fireplace" (approved designs which will ensure there is good combustion).

Also see
Conversion to energy (190)
Energy use and climate change (450)
Transport issues (460)


Alphabetical list of organisations


Air Protekt Ltd
Tel 01223 872933 Fax 01223 872934
Newton Hill, Newton, CAMBRIDGE CB2 5PE

Supplier of products and services for the control of VOCs, carbon monoxide and NOx emissions from industrial processes. Over 30 years experience of catalytic and thermal oxidation solutions.


Air Quality Helpline

Freephone 0800 556677

Dept of Environment interactive helpline providing regularly updated information on local air quality, together with an air quality forecast and health advice when necessary. Similar information is available on Ceefax pages 404, 410-414 and Teletext 106.


Anguil Environmental Europe Ltd

Tel 01782 719319 Fax 01782 740440
Brampton House, 10 Queens Street, NEWCASTLE ST5 1ED

Provision of oxidiser systems for removing organic pollutants (VOCs, odours, particulates and toxics) from process exhaust emissions.


Casella Ltd

Tel 01234 841441  Fax 01234 841490   Email casella.limited@enterprise.net
Regent House, Wolseley Road, Kempston, BEDFORD MK42 7JY

Supplier of real-time PM10 air pollution monitoring equipment.


CleanAir (Campaign for a Smoke-Free Environment)
Tel 0208 690 4649
33 Stillness Road, Forest Hill, LONDON SE23 1NG

Voluntary organisation campaigning against smoke pollution from tobacco and other substances, helping individuals and organisations to form and implement a clean air policy, and helping smokers to give up the habit. Undertake research, organise exhibitions, demonstrations, conferences and debates. Various publications.


Encyclopedia of the Atmospheric Environment

Website www.doc.mmu.ac.uk/aric/eae/enter.html  Tel 0161 247 1590/3  Fax 0161 247 6332  Email aric@mmu.ac.uk 
Atmospheric Research & Information Centre, Manchester Metropolitan University, Chester Street, MANCHESTER M1 5GD

A one-stop source of information for all ages, the on-line encyclopedia at the web address given above contains a wealth of information on over 400 topics under the major headings of Acid rain, Air quality, Atmosphere, Climate, Climate change, Global warming, Ozone depletion, Sustainability, and Weather.  Written by the Atmosphere, Climate & Environment Information Programme, and supported by the Department of Environment, Transport & the Regions (DETR).


IBS Viridian

Tel 01227 770123 / 01227 770505
114-116 John Wilson Business Park, Thanet Way, WHITSTABLE, Kent CT5 3QT

Waste treatment systems, specialising in biological treatment of effluents, contaminated land and groundwater, liquid and atmospheric emissions and odour treatment. Capability from consultancy to construction including site surveys; laboratory trials; process specifications and plant installation. Biotreatment of municipal and waste water effluents with custom blends of micro-organisms for optimal treatment. Industries served include construction, chemical, petrochemical, metal processing, textile, agriculture and agrochemical, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, and food and drink.


Leo Consultants

Tel 01763 273707 Fax 01763 273594
84 High Street, BUNTINGFORD, Herts SG9 9AJ

Emissions compliance, assessment and testing; sourcing and installation of remediation equipment.


Mannings Environmental Services

Tel 01704 538202 Fax 01704 545898
Russell Road, SOUTHPORT, Merseyside PR9 7RJ

Air pollution monitoring and engineering services for process industries.


Met Office
Tel 01344 856505 Fax 01344 854943
Email ecg@meto.gov.uk Website www.met-office.gov.uk
Sutton House, London Road, BRACKNELL, Berks RG12 2SY

Expertise in weather services and air quality; consultancy services on impact assessment; stack height determination; accident analysis; scenario modelling.


Trees for Cities
Tel  0207 587 1320   Fax  0207 793 9042 
Email  info@treesforcities.org   Website  www.treesforcities.org  
Prince Consort Lodge, Kennington Park Place, LONDON SE11 4AS
Contact  Graham Simmonds, Chief Executive 0207 820 4424 or 
Sharon Johnson, Development Manager 0207 820 4421

Independent charity supporting city-wide tree planting, training, landscaping and greening initiatives in urban areas, including those of greatest need.  Aims to stimulate a greening renaissance in cities around the world.  Runs Capital Woodlands Project - partners include GLA, Forestry Commission, and several London Boroughs.  Research and information published recently includes: Tree Facts, City Tree Data, Carbon Policy (and tree science), and Tree Manifesto for London.  Works with companies and organisations wishing to use tree planting as part of their carbon management programme.  Its “Carbon Code” is underpinned by two guiding principles which it expects any organisation it works with to sign up to. 1: trees are only part of the solution. 2: tree planting to offset carbon must be additional.  Active worldwide in: London and Manchester (England), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Bucharest, (Romania), and Madrid (Spain).  Partners might be NGOs, city councils, or volunteer associations.  Support and advice on: planting street trees, creating community parks and woodland, community and education activities, job training, social enterprise, fundraising, project development, and marketing.  Sponsors include businesses, trusts, government agencies, patrons and celebrities.  See 400 Social, 10 Organics, 14 Wood waste and 23 Timber reclamation for related organisations and information.  (Updated July 2004)