Air Pollution in Manchester and The Peak District National Park

By Dec Barlow, Iain Cooper, Mark Daniels and Mathew Greaney

  • Introduction
  • Air pollution in Manchester
  • Air pollution in The Peak District .
  • Effects of Air pollution
  • Conclusion


Air pollution occurs when the air contains gases, fumes or odour in harmful amounts, meaning enough to be harmful to the health or comfort of humans and animals or which could cause damage to plants and materials (EPA Victoria, 2009). The whole world is susceptible to pollution, even in the Yorkshire dales where the cows and sheep release methane into the atmosphere! However some places are much more susceptible to pollution than others such as urban areas like Manchester, mainly due to human influences, see fig 2. There are also many different types of pollutants currently in the atmosphere as shown in fig 1, all of which have different effects upon the atmosphere.
Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3

Fig 1. Diagram showing the types of Fig 2. Pie chart showing emission sources. Fig 3. Pollution in Manchetser, 1880.
pollutants in the atmosphere. (Eco action, 2007) (snoqualmienation, 2009) (WCP blog, 2006)

Air Pollution In Manchester

Figure 4
Figure 4

Manchester has suffered from air pollution since the industrial revolution due to the textile manufacturing that occurred in the city in large, coal burning factories.

Nowadays, Manchester still faces air quality issues. However, the source is not manufacturing, but transport and traffic pollution. Toxic gases including Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide and Benzene can be found in the air in the city, which can lead to health implications for inhabitants.

Manchester is home to Oxford Road, located at the beginning of the South Manchester corridor, and it is the most bus-served road in Europe. This has resulted in air pollution throughout the city. Oxford Road has been selected to be a ‘low carbon lab for green experiments’.

Figure 5
Figure 5

Nitrogen Dioxide in the air measured in 2006 was at 44 ug/m3, the target level is below 40 ug/m3. The UK average is34.74 ug/m3. The majority of these emissions come from road traffic. There is a concentration of this pollutant in the city centre, in particular Piccadilly Gardens where there is a main bus station linked to Oxford Road.

Figure 5 shows the shows the main causes of NOx emmisions and there proportions.

In 2008 a congestion charge was presented to manchester residents, campaigners for the congestion charge saw that it was a very effective way of cleaning up manchesters air. There was a vote for the proposal, residents of manchesters voted against the congestion charge as many saw the costs as extortionate. Air qaulity campaigners felt that it displayed that people were more concerned about economy than health.
Figure 8
Figure 7

To try and monitor pollution levels in manchester there are numerous points around the city where many reading are taken of the the current air pollution levels, the reading show what pollutant is existing in the area. Examples of this are shown in figures 7 and 8.

Air Pollution In The Peak District

Figure 9

In 2004 Manchester Metropolitan University studied mosses across the Peak District. Certain mosses can be used as bio indicators of nitrogen dioxide levels because they takenitrogen outof the air through a process called nitrogen fixation
Samples of moss were collected from 29 sites across the park. Samples were also taken from areas in Scotland and North Wales so that the results could be compared, figure 9 shows the comparison of nitrogen values. The samples taken in the Peak District had the highest values suggesting that the area is exposed to higher levels of nitrogen emissions.

The Peak district is exposed to high levels of nitrogen because of its location in relation to Manchester. As a result of a prevailing south westerly wind the Peak District is effectively downwind of Manchester.

Another method we used to directly compare the pollution in the atmosphere of the two areas was to do a traffic count and place a Petri dish with grease on for a week to see the differences in results.

Traffic Tally in 1 hour

Peak District, Millersdale
Manchester, Oxford Road

Fig 9, gives traffic count in the two areas.
Particle count after 1 hour
Peak District, Millersdale
Manchester, Oxford Road

Fig 10, gives the pollution particle count in the 2 areas.

Fig 9 shows that there is a x11.77 increase in the number of vehicles every hour in Manchester compared to the Peak District and thus fig 10 proves there is more pollution particles in the air, with x9.22 more particles very hour in Millersdale.

Effects Of Air Pollution

The effects of air pollution effects humans, animals and can even adversly effect buildings. Studies have estimated that the number of people killed annually in the US alone could be over 50,000, and has also been estimated to cause over two million premature deaths worldwide per year.


The most commonly known consequence of air pollution is respiratory disease such as;
  • Lung cancers
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
Some pollutants have worse effects than others. Arsenic poisoning which can occur from air pollution can cause damage to nerves and skin cells. Lead poisoning can also result in mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and has also been linhed to alzheimers.

Air pollution not only has an effect on people’s health but also on the environment in the following ways;
  • Acid rain
  • Smog
  • Ozone depletion
  • Global warming

figure 6


Overall it is evident that pollution in the Peak district it at a much lower level than in Manchester mainly due to human impact upon the enviroenment with industry and transport.Human impact is a current huge global issue, with pollution affecting health and the state of the atmosphere and climate change being key. However air pollution in the peak district is not as low as it could be, due to its close proximity to Manchester and the prevailing North Westerly wind, so air pollution in Manchester is affecting the peak district. It is vital that air pollution is reduced not only for the good of the population of Manchester’s health but also to reduce environmental affects in the Peak District.So it is key to gain sustainability in pollution and get the environment back to its original state. Methods to help this are-

Traffic control:
Congestion charges
Change of car type- Hybrid,biofeul or electric
Walking/ cycling
Public transport
Eco Friendly:
Energy efficient appliances
Non- toxic paints

Recycling plants
re-use materails
Compost piles
Home recycling schemes

Reducing pollution is key to global environment sustainability!!