Alert close - icon Fill 1 Copy 10 Untitled-1 tt copy 3 Untitled-1 Untitled-1 tt copy 3 Fill 1 Copy 10 menu Group 3 Group 3 Copy 3 Group 3 Copy Page 1 Group 2 Group 2 Skip to content

Air quality

Across England, air pollution is having a major impact on our health. It's estimated that, air pollution contributes to between 26,000 and 38,000 deaths every year.

Air pollution and health

The impact of poor air quality is greater on certain groups of people including children, pregnant women, older people, and those with certain health conditions affecting the lungs and heart.

The good news is that we can help to improve air quality by making small changes where possible, such as reducing the number of small journeys we take by car, using public transport, and reducing the use of solid fuel or wood for heating our homes.

This collective effort can produce big changes in the air we breathe.

Along with Derby City Council and the borough and district councils of Derbyshire, we've produced a short video about air pollution. You can find out what air pollution is and most importantly what small changes we can all make to improve air quality in our county.

Local air pollution is affected by the weather conditions and could have short-term health effects, especially if you have underlying health conditions.

For more information about predicted pollution levels see the air pollution forecast.

The sources of air pollution

Everyday activities such as heating our homes and travelling by car have a significant impact on the quality of the air.

Pollution such as car exhaust fumes and brake dust take the form of particulate matter which, when inhaled, can pass into our bloodstream, move around the body and cause damage when it gets into our organs.

Car exhaust fumes also can increase nitrogen dioxide levels in the air which can cause damage to your lungs and increase the risk of infections and asthma. Long term exposure to high levels of nitrogen dioxide can cause long term lung problems. A third of the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air that we breathe are from road transport.

The effects of idling your vehicle

Idling is when we leave the engine of a vehicle running while the vehicle is standing still. 

Idling cars emit nitrogen oxides which can lead to damage in the airways and lungs. They can also release large amounts of carbon dioxide, a gas linked with climate change.

Modern cars don't need to idle. Advances in technology have made it easier to avoid idling. Most manufacturers recommend avoiding idling to get the best and most cost-effective performance out of their vehicles.

Idling also costs you money. Ten seconds of idling uses more fuel that turning your engine off and on. It also creates wear and tear on your engine.

The Highway Code

The Highway Code states drivers must not leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while the vehicle is stationary on a public road. Idling your engine is illegal and you could receive a £20 fine.

How we can help clean up our air

38% of all particulate emissions are a result of burning wood and coal in open fires and wood burning stoves in our homes.

A further 12% of particulate matter emissions are produced by road transport.

We all have our part to play in reducing the amount of particulates in the air, and we can start today by:

  • avoiding using the car for short journeys in built-up areas
  • being more active – leave the car at home and take a walk instead, and consider using the side streets to keep yourself away from where pollution is highest
  • using public transport where possible
  • turning off your car engine when you park or are waiting in traffic
  • considering changing your car to an electric vehicle
  • car-sharing to reduce the number of vehicles on the road
  • reducing your use of solid wood and coal to heat your home and use alternative heat sources where possible
  • maintaining your appliance and chimney including getting your chimney swept once a year, and ensuring your appliance is clean and dry
  • burning better by only burning dry fuel with the 'ready to burn' symbol on the packaging
  • not burning wet or painted wood
Find out how you can burn better to improve air quality

Air quality strategy

There is an air quality strategy for Derby and Derbyshire that aims to improve air quality through 3 broad themes:

  • changing how we travel by increasing the use of sustainable travel options
  • reducing sources of air pollution, moving away from carbon-based fuels and working towards 'Net Zero'
  • mitigating against the health impacts of air pollution by providing information and taking action

The strategy is delivered by local partners including councils and the Integrated Care Board.

For further information about air quality, health data and a link to the strategy visit the Derbyshire Observatory.