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Havant Air Quality Concern

Dear Mr. Graham (Havant FOE Member),

Thank you  for your message.  I have indeed had a long conversation with Mr. Cobbett about the issue of air quality at the Park Road / Elm Land junction, adjacent the playground area in Havant Park.

You are right to raise concerns, as the air quality in this region is potentially in breach of the Annual Exposure objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (40µg/m3, as annual average).  This objective is applicable to local residential properties, doctors surgeries & educational establishments (among a limited number of other sensitive land uses deemed to be ‘relevant receptors’).

Oddly, places of employment are expressly excluded from direct comparison with this annual objective, despite potential exposure for 8hrs + per day.

Playground areas (or public transportation stops, open-air seating areas for pubs café’s etc.), or any other area where people are likely to spend an hour or more are compared with the Hourly Objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (200µg/m3, hourly average).  Havant Borough Council does not currently have the ability to directly monitor concentrations over short (hourly) periods for the assessment this objective using local empirical data.

However, comparisons are made with comparable locations where automatic (15 minute average) readings are taken – namely roadside monitoring locations in Brighton, Hove, Portsmouth & Southampton.

These monitoring locations typically have a greater traffic flow, are a comparable distance from road traffic sources, and are in areas with a higher background contribution to atmospheric NO2.

Assessments of this ‘surrogate’ data have consistently shown that the hourly mean objective of 200µg/m3 is rarely breached, and I do not recall recording any incidences of the permitted number of breaches being exceeded in any year (at any of the ‘surrogate’ monitoring locations).  This provides strong indication that the hourly objective is very unlikely to have been breached / exceeded at any location in Havant Borough.

In terms of other pollutants, no direct measurements are currently being taken, as assessments of modelled national data, and data from specific automatic analysers on the network (in a similar fashion to that described above for NO2 hourly objective) have shown that to date, it is very unlikely that concentrations of these pollutants are approaching their respective objectives at any location within the Borough.

This is currently true of PM10, a major component of road traffic pollution; however central government are currently reviewing the objective and considering reducing the level at which action is required.  Similarly, the introduction of new pollutants into the National Air Quality Strategy (namely PM5, and PM2.5) may affect the conclusions of future assessments, as the background levels of particulates in general (PM- 10, 5 & 2.5) is thought to be relatively high.

Nitrogen Dioxide readings on Park road have been higher than usual this year, but I am cautious to draw any conclusion from that anecdotal fact, as I do not currently have available the information required to determine whether that is due to a genuine increase in concentrations, or whether laboratory sampling error levels have increased (as occurred last year).  Validation studies undertaken nationally will help determine this.

Nevertheless, Havant Borough Council will be undertaking a detailed assessment of air quality in the region of the Havant Park playground in due course, alongside the mandatory screening assessment required at the end of April.

I appreciate your concern with regard to the monitoring of air quality directly at the park, however given the assessment guidance, and the imminent detailed assessment – the monitoring point at the opposite corner of the Elm Lane / Park Road junction is considered adequate to assess air quality at the park. Indeed, previous assessments have estimated air quality at the boundary of the park (playground area) using official models; and shown that breaches of even the annual objective for Nitrogen Dioxide are unlikely.

I hope that the above summary provides sufficient reassurance that Havant Borough Council are taking local air quality seriously.  If you would like further / more detailed information on local air quality, assessments from 2001-2007 are available to view on the website.  The 2008 assessment is currently under review following some statistical errors being brought to my attention.

Best Regards,

Jonathan Driver


Environmental Control Officer

Environmental Health (Rm 261),

Civic Offices,

Civic Centre Road,



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