Air pollution results from the introduction of a range of substances into the atmosphere from a wide variety of sources. It can cause both short term and long term effects on health, but also on the wider environment. The air quality in Scotland is generally better now than it has been at any time since before the Industrial Revolution.
Particle pollution, also called particulate matter or PM, is a mixture of solids and liquid droplets floating in the air. Some particles are released directly from a specific source, while others form in complicated chemical reactions in the atmosphere.
Particles come in a wide range of sizes.
Coarse dust particles (PM10) are 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter. Sources include crushing or grinding, some agricultural operations and dust stirred up by vehicles on roads.
Fine particles (PM2.5) are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, and can only be seen with an electron microscope. Fine particles are produced from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, residential wood burning, fires and some industrial processes. Most worrying is that recent data shows that 78% of the UK PM2.5 particulates now come from domestic woodburning.
Locally, we have been measuring the levels of air pollution in Abernyte via sensors at Infield. You can see the sensor results in real time by visiting the Abernyte Air Sensors. The map shows the location of the Abernyte sensors and the few other similar sensors in our area. The colour of the marker is an indication of the current air quality and you can select from the variety of sensor measurements available. The default is the PM 2.5 - 5 minute mean. Clicking on the coloured marker at Abernyte and then clicking on the sensor number will show the past 24 hours graph.
Abernyte's air quality is very good and seldom varies from within the green zone of cleanest air. Yet within those readings they can and do vary from near zero pollutants and on occasion in to the yellow moderate band, mostly from the output from woodburning stoves and open fires. The readings from these sensors can only give an indication of the air quality. For the official Scottish air quality results from the official and calibrated sensors you need to go to the Scottish Government's air quality page here. This monitoring is mostly in urban areas of high traffic density but is using the same index as our local sensors.