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Air Pollution

Air Quality is important because it's about the air we all breathe and the effect of the pollutants in it on our bodies and health.

The Air We Breathe

This page is all about the air we breathe and what West Lothian Council does to monitor and improve the situation.

Air quality affects our health. The standards set are all health-related. If you already have a respiratory condition, you may wish to sign up for the Air Quality 'Know and Respond' Service (opens new window), which gives warnings when air pollutant levels are expected to be higher. Whilst it can't give information on a town by town basis, it gives users up to date information on air quality to allow them to make informed choices.

Air Quality Monitoring

Environmental Health have three automatic cabinets for monitoring air quality in West Lothian. These are located in Linlithgow, Broxburn and Newton. Data is checked by Officers remotely on a daily basis and real-time data can be viewed from these sites atthe Scottish Air Quality web site (opens new window). Environmental Health also use passive diffusion tubes for measuring Nitrogen dioxide and these are located at 20 sites across West Lothian. Diffusion Tubes are used to give Officers an indication of the air quality throughout West Lothian.

Current and Historic Data

Current real time air quality data can be viewed on line at the Scottish Air Quality web site (opens new window).

Information is reported in calendar years. Historic Air Quality Reports can be found further down on this page.

Local Air Quality Management

West Lothian Council is committed to fulfilling the requirements of the Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) process. We are guided by:

Air Quality Management Areas

An Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) for Broxburn was declared in March 2011 due to exceedances of both Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulates (PM10). An Air Quality Action Plan for Broxburn has now been drafted following the declaration of the AQMA. The consultation ran from 7 March 2016 to 18 April 2016.

An Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) for Linlithgow was declared in April 2016 due to exceedances of both Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulates (PM10). The next stage will be to carry out an assessment to provide the technical justification for any proposed measures to include in an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP). This further assessment will run in parallel with the development of the action plan for Linlithgow. The action plan will focus on effective, feasible, proportionate, and quantifiable measures to reduce air pollution in Linlithgow.  

A consultation on the proposed AQMA for Linlithgow ran from the 7 March 2016 to 7 April 2016. The views gathered during this period were considered. An Air Quality Management Order was drafted and finalised on the 25 April 2016 declaring an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) for Linlithgow due to exceedances of both Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulates (PM10). More information can be found in the  AQMA Order for Linlithgow [758KB] .

Detailed Assessment [910KB]  of Air Quality in Newton has been carried out. The report has now been finalised and encompasses modelling of PM10 . The key purpose of the report is to assess the magnitude of any exceedances of the PM10 annual mean objectives at locations that relevant human exposure may occur. The modelling study within the report indicated there are exceedances of the PM10 annual mean Scottish Objective in most of Newton.

In light of the Detailed Assessment of Air Quality in Newton using the available monitoring data from 2014, West Lothian Council is required to declare an Air Quality Management Area for the exceedances of the Scottish PM10 annual mean objective. It is envisaged that the boundaries mirror those in the West Lothian Local Development Proposed Plan and will include the whole of Newton.

What can you do to improve Air Quality?

Much of the pollutants which cause poor air quality come from road vehicles. Although modern vehicles have become much cleaner, this hasn't solved the problem because:

  • numbers of vehicles on the roads have continued to rise
  • the majority of car journeys are less then 5 miles long, which means the engine and other parts of the car don't work as cleanly and efficiently as they should. They use more fuel per mile and produce more pollutants
  • diesels have become more popular, but produce fine particulates. They are often not a good choice for short journeys, but are more economical and more environmentally friendly on  longer journeys
  • not all vehicles work as well as they should
  • we're not yet in the habit of switching the car off when we're parked or stopped for time in traffic

Have a think about:

  • car or lift sharing; or using Passenger Transport
  • walking or cycling for short local trips, including sharing walking children in groups to school and nursery
  • buying a car which best suits the type of journey you do. You could even consider a hybrid or plug-in electric car
  • get in the habit of  when parked (its the law) or in traffic.

All of these help improve health for you and everyone else in our streets and probably reduce your carbon footprint.

Learn About Air Quality

If you are a teacher, student at school, or just someone wanting to learn more about air quality - see 'Learn About Air' educational website (opens new window).

Domestic Fires, Stoves and Biomass Heating

These all produce pollutants which affect local air quality. If you are considering any of these, please see Domestic fires, stoves and biomass heating for things to consider first before committing money to them.

Smoke Control Areas

Almost all of Livingston is covered by Smoke Control Areas. There are no Smoke Control Areas outwith Livingston. More detailed information, see Smoke Control Areas.

The Broxburn Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) has now been revoked by way of The West Lothian Council (Broxburn) Air Quality Management Area Revocation Order 2024 which came into force on the 26th January 2024.
This page explains what parts of West Lothian are Smoke Control Areas, what this means and where to get more information.
An Air Quality Management Area in Linlithgow was declared in April 2016 due to exceedances of both Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulates (PM10). A draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) has been developed and will be subject to public consultation. The AQAP will set out measures to reduce air pollution in Linlithgow.
More people are turning to modern stoves, open fires or biomass heating systems to help heat their home or business. Burning coal or other solid fuels does cause increased local pollution and you should think carefully about whether it is the right option for your situation and area.
It's not against the law to have a bonfire in your garden, but it can cause problems depending on what is burned, how often it happens and how much smoke it generates. Environmental Health receives a number of complaints about smoke and odour from bonfires at neighbours' properties.
This page explains why agricultural spreading takes place, what can be spread on land, the standards expected and the regulatory controls which exist.
An Air Quality Management Area in Newton was declared in July 2016 due to exceedances of fine particulates (PM10). A draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) has been developed and will be subject to public consultation. The AQAP will set out measures to reduce air pollution in Newton.