New countywide air quality website launched for Oxfordshire

A new Oxfordshire air quality website has launched – providing air quality guidance and resources across the county.

The website oxonair.uk, which has been created in partnership between Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council, and the four district councils –Cherwell, West Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse, aims to integrate all relevant air quality-related information in Oxfordshire under one single platform.

The launch of the joint website demonstrates each council’s commitment to tackling air pollution across the county.

Councillor Michael O’Connor, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Inequalities, said: “There is no safe level of air pollution according to the World Health Organisation. It damages our health at any level and its effects are often lethal: up to 40,000 deaths are attributable to air pollution in the UK every year.

“Although air pollution affects all of us, the burden doesn’t fall evenly. Children, older people, and those with health conditions are more likely to be harmed by it. Areas that are less well-off are often home to higher levels of pollution and those living in them suffer more severely from its health impacts.”

In March 2021, Oxford City Council was awarded £162,500 to develop an air quality community website to help raise awareness of air pollution across Oxfordshire. The platform replaces oxfordshire.air-quality.info and includes several new features, including:

  • air pollution forecasts up to five days in advance
  • air pollution alerts for Oxfordshire
  • air quality footprint calculator
  • air quality pledges for individuals
  • information on individual council air quality projects across the county.

The website also continues to feature a map and real-time readings of monitoring stations across Oxfordshire including NO2, PM2.5 and PM10, as well as general advice on air quality, why it is important and how it is monitored across the county.

The new website was created by all six Oxfordshire councils in partnership with global strategic environmental and engineering consulting company Ricardo, and residents were encouraged to share their views on what features they would like to include on the website.

Air pollution is chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, plants, and can damage buildings. The main pollutants of concern to scientists and health experts are particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) ozone, nitrogen dioxide.

Air pollution has been found to particularly impact the most vulnerable members of society, such as those from minority backgrounds, the young, old and those experiencing health issues.

Across Oxfordshire in 2021, it was estimated that air pollution’s effect on mortality was equivalent to 320 early deaths.

Councillor Anna Railton, Oxford City Council’s Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, said: “We all know that air pollution is a problem that affects everyone, but it is especially harmful to the most vulnerable people in our society. The new Oxfordshire air quality website provides even more information and guidance on air pollution, and, for the first time, residents will be able to sign up for alerts so they can stay up to date on pollution forecasts. I hope that this website will be a useful tool for anyone interested in air quality across the county.”

Councillor Lidia Arciszewska, West Oxfordshire District Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “Exposure to even moderate levels of air pollution can have such a huge impact on our health and well-being. In fact, poor air quality is attributed to around 36,000 UK deaths a year. The new Oxfordshire website pulls together loads of helpful information, allowing residents to see the most up to date local air quality readings for their area and also find out more about some of the positive local projects that are bringing about change to lower pollution across the county, including here in West Oxfordshire.”

Councillor Mark Coleman, Vale of White Horse District Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Waste, said: “We know our residents, particularly those living close to busy roads, have concerns about air pollution and its impact on individuals’ health. This newly designed and easy to use website will provide residents with up-to-date information about their local air quality and alert them to air pollution issues.”

Councillor Sue Cooper, South Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “The new website is a useful and welcome resource that everyone in Oxfordshire can use to see clearly where the highest risk of air pollution is. The next step will be to look at ways to tackle it.”

Councillor Andrew McHugh, Cherwell District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Cleaner and Greener Communities, said: “We welcome the addition of a new community website that will allow residents to access more information on the air pollution levels in the district. Our Environmental Protection Officers work to monitor the air quality across Cherwell which helps us to ensure that it is at and remains at a good level.”

Jenny Thomas, Principal Consultant at Ricardo, said: “Improving air quality and public health relies on access to clear, easily accessible information and data. We are delighted that the Oxfordshire councils recognise Ricardo’s globally renowned air quality expertise, and our 60-year track record in providing national, regional and local governments with trusted scientific evidence.” 

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