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Monitoring pollutants

Air quality monitoring locations

Middlesbrough Council monitors air quality at two sites in the town to ensure that the objectives and standards set for air quality are met.

Breckon Hill

The station uses automatic monitors to measure nitrogen oxides, PM10 particulates, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone. Two sets of diffusion tubes are also located at the site to measure benzene and 1,3- Butadiene.

The site is classified as an urban industrial site on the national network.

In 2007 a Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) was introduced as part of a national network of digital samplers.

In 2008 the TEOM PM10 monitor was upgraded to operate with FDMS and PM2.5 with FDMS also introduced.

This site was established in 1993 and is part of the Automatic Urban Network of monitoring sites part funded by Defra. The data from this site is passed to the UK-AIR for publication on their website.

Macmillan College

This site was established in March 2000 and has automatic monitors to measure nitrogen oxides and PM10 particulates. Both of these pollutants are associated with road traffic activities and the site was chosen due to its proximity to the intersection of the A66 and A19.

Pollutants monitored

The Environment Act 1995 and subsequent regulations require councils to review and assess air quality in their area against a range of air quality standards.

If the review and assessment process shows that an objective isn't met or is unlikely to be met, the council is obliged to declare an Air Quality Management Area and prepare an action plan to reduce air pollution within the defined area.

Reports detailing the air quality in Middlesbrough are prepared and forwarded to the government showing the monitoring which has been undertaken to identify whether an Air Quality Management Area should be declared. Middlesbrough's air quality has always met the objectives set and the town has never needed to declare an Air Quality Management Area. Monitoring will continue in order to ensure that current and future standards are met.

The specific pollutants monitored by Middlesbrough Council are:


Benzene is a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) and is released predominantly during the burning and distribution of petrol, although some emissions do come from industrial sources.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is predominately produced by the burning of fuel by road transport.

Nitrogen dioxide

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is derived from road transport emissions and other combustion processes such as the generation of electricity.


Ozone at ground level is generated when sunlight oxidizes VOCs in the presence of nitrogen oxides. The sources of VOCs and nitrogen oxides are predominately fuel burning due to road transport and fossil fuel burning.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of persistent organic compounds, some of which are toxic and/or possible/proven human carcinogens. They are produced via incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels from industrial, commercial, vehicular and residential sources.

Particulate PM10 and PM2.5

Many sources of fine particulate matter exist. The sources include traffic, construction work, industry, quarrying and coal burning. Natural sources include pollen and, in coastal areas, sand and salt.

Sulphur dioxide

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is generally produced during the burning of fuels containing sulphur. These are mostly fossil fuels such as coal and heavy oils.