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Diesel cars responsible for 40% of NO2 air pollution in Bristol city centre

Today Bristol City Council released a Cabinet Report on air quality that highlights the extent and concentration of air pollution across Bristol, with Nitrogen Dioxide levels recorded at twice the legal limit in some areas of the city centre. This follows months of work by Green councillors who passed a successful Full Council motion calling for action on clean air in November 2016.


Latest Bristol Council data shows sites across the city centre exceeding the legal limit for Nitrogen Dioxide levels, with some experiencing twice the legal limit.

Statistics in the report also show that the bulk of the city centre's air pollution is due to diesel engines, with diesel cars responsible for 40% of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) emissions and diesel cars and LGVs accounting for nearly two thirds of these emissions in central Bristol. 

Green Councillor Jerome Thomas said: “This research is very helpful in identifying the sources of air pollution in central Bristol.  The statistics highlighting the air pollution caused by diesel cars is a particular cause for concern and suggests that any plan to secure breathable air for Bristolians must include action on these polluting vehicles.”

 The report released for next week’s Cabinet session notes that in terms of the “general trend of Nitrogen Dioxide pollution in the city we can see no significant improvement in pollution levels, which remain above the legal limit values.” Under recent government guidance Bristol has a legal duty to develop an Air Quality Action Plan to bring Nitrogen Dioxide levels below legal limits and reduce the public health impact of air pollution.


Council research indicates that diesel cars and LGVs combined contribute nearly two thirds of Nitrogen Oxides emissions in the city centre.

Along with particulate matter, Nitrogen Dioxide is a major component of air pollution. The health impacts of air pollution include poor lung development and asthma among children, and deaths from cardiac and respiratory causes among adults. Council research estimates that around 300 deaths per year (8.5% of deaths in the city) are attributable to air pollution.

Background info:

Reports pack for Cabinet Meeting of August 15th (includes the report on air quality):

NB: Bristol Green Party has developed a five point plan to tackle the city’s air pollution crisis – for more info see

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