Lab: Heavy Metal Slips Down UK Air Quality Charts
in the United Kingdom has improved over the last 25 years, according to
a report published by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).
Monitoring at 17 testing sites around the country shows a fall in the
presence of harmful heavy metals such as lead, iron and copper in the
Results show a 70 percent reduction in the average presence of
all heavy metals tested over the period. The total average
concentration has fallen from 1873 nanograms per cubic meter of air in
1980 to just 568 ng/m3 in 2006 for the nine elements monitored. Lead
has fallen from 556 ng/m3 in 1980 to 19.95ng/m3 last year -- a
reduction of 96.5 percent.
The decrease in air pollution reflects a move to greener
industrial and household processes and advances in environmentally
focused technology such as unleaded petrol.
Richard Brown, principal research scientist at NPL explain:
?Taking lead as an example, the steady decline of emissions from coal
and oil combustion along with the change in fuel usage, and reductions
in industrial output, has resulted in a significant reduction of lead
in the atmosphere. We expect to see this decline continuing across the
board until levels finally bottom out and become close to those
Air quality is measured monthly by collecting filters provided
to the participating sites by NPL. These are returned to the laboratory
where the results are analyzed and collated. Results show that levels
of all 13 harmful elements monitored are below those demanded by
European directives and all are already well inside the UK?s air
quality objectives for 2009.
Air pollution has been recognized as a danger to public health
for more than 200 years but it is only since 1980 that supporting data
for metals has been widely available. Disparate air monitoring sites
were brought together under the umbrella of the UK Heavy Metals
Monitoring Network in 2003. The network is run on behalf of Defra by
NPL, the UK?s national measurement institute.