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Air quality monitoring

Find out how we are managing levels of air pollution in our borough.

Air pollution is linked to health problems and those most at risk are the young, the elderly and people who have asthma or heart or lung diseases.

For this reason, we regularly check air quality in our borough to make sure pollutants, such as Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) do not exceed the icon limits set by the government. [207.08KB]

Road traffic is our main pollutant

Air quality in Guildford is generally good and meets the National Air Quality Standard for NO2. However, road traffic is a significant cause of air pollution in the borough and there is a risk that NO2 levels may go above the acceptable national standards.

Monitoring pollution

Diffusion tubes measuring Nitrogen dioxide

We carried out diffusion tubes monitoring at icon these locations in 2020 [40.26KB] . The monitoring data and bias adjusted annual average are in the Downloads section on this page. 

Diffusion tubes are left at sites for a month, then analysed to give the average concentration of NO2 for that month.

The monthly results are averaged over 12 months to give an annual mean result.

Air quality duties

Our duties to monitor air quality in the borough are set out by the Environment Act 1995, European Union Directives and the UK's Air Quality Strategy.

If air quality in the borough does not meet the national standard, we will draw up an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and draft an action plan to improve the air quality in that area. 

We have two AQMAs currently in place, see our our Guildford air quality management areas page for more information.

Air quality study

We participated in a countywide detailed air quality study. The study was completed by Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC) . The report aimed to identify and prioritise actions in local pollution hotspots.

The main highlights of the report are:

  • we are meeting air quality targets in most areas of the borough. Some areas near major roads show levels for nitrogen dioxide exceeds annual mean air quality objective. These areas need further investigation under Local Air Quality Management (LAQM).
  • We are meeting the annual mean for Particulate Matters 2.5 (PM2.5) throughout the county.
  • Road transport is the biggest contributor to nitric oxide (NOX). Diesel cars and Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) being the largest contributors.
  • Significant proportion of PM2.5 is contributed by the background sources outside Surrey.

The report also evaluated public health impact of air quality. Areas near major roads have the highest levels of pollution and health impacts.

Tackling air quality

To tackle air quality, we need a multidisciplinary and multi-organisational approach.

In September 2018, the decision making for air quality in our borough was moved to the Guildford Joint Committee, made up of Borough Councillors and Surrey County Council Councillors. This means both organisations now work in partnership on air quality issues.

It also means we are working with colleagues in Highways, Transport Planning, School Travel Planning, Road Safety and Transport Strategy.

The Planning Framework makes sure that air quality is taken into account in local plans and must be considered at the pre-application stage. Infrastructure has to include greener transport options.

Schools education programmes

Together with Surrey County Council (SCC), we brought Performance in Education's production of 'Abbie Ayre and the Shed of Science' tour to six local primary schools in 2020. The show gets pupils to look at the causes of air pollution and asks them to think of solutions to it, such as walking to school.

We are also planning other educational school projects, such as air quality monitoring workshops, which will be carried out with SCC. 


We have joined with Easit Network to improve greener travel options and travel planning for our residents and businesses. Visit the Easit website to find out more.

Other improvements include:

  • car clubs

  • a Town centre Transport Package which aims to make it easier for people to get around the town centre on foot, by bicycle, and public transport

  • electric charging points have been added in public car parks

  • a sustainable parking strategy, which is at a draft stage and will improve congestion and help use of electric and low emission vehicles.

How you can help

We are asking businesses and residents to help improve our borough's air quality, for example by:

  • choosing a sustainable travel option using public transport, park and ride, walking, cycling, car clubs, or car sharing
  • using cleaner, ultra low emission vehicles

  • avoiding burning garden waste on bonfires. Join our garden waste scheme instead

  • following smoke control guidelines and using authorised appliances and fuel choices

  • turning off car engines when you are stationary.