Particle Reduction Strategy

In March 2022 the council was awarded an Air Quality Grant of £253,432 to develop a Particle Reduction Strategy for the Bradford District. This work is currently on going and progress will be reported here.

The main planned work streams are:

  • improved particle information and advice provision for Braford residents
  • investigation into indoor sources of particles in conjunction with the INGENIOUS research programme
  • development of an outdoor sensor based PM network in Bradford
  • longer term development of a wider West Yorkshire PM network (funded by WYCA)
  • updating of the PM emissions inventory for West Yorkshire (funded by a WY AQ grant obtained in March 2023)
  • Solid fuel burning attitudes / knowledge questionnaire (undertake by Sheffield University)
  • Solid fuel burning emission reduction campaign (winter 2023/24)
  • Introduction of particle monitoring and awareness activities in schools as part of the Bradford Clean Air Schools Programme (CASP)
  • Development of a Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) emission reduction scheme (2024)

What are particles?

Particles (often referred to as (PM) are a complex mixture of solid and liquids of varying shape, size and composition. Some particles are emitted directly into the environment (primary PM) from local sources such as cars and chimneys; others are formed in the atmosphere through complex chemical reactions (secondary PM).

Some particles travel many miles before reaching Bradford and can come from sources such as Saharan dust storms, wildfires and volcanoes. The composition of PM varies greatly from place to place and depends on many factors, such as geographical location, local emission sources and weather conditions.

Most of the local particle pollution in Bradford comes from combustion of fuels in vehicles and domestic properties. Wood burning stoves are significant sources of PM in some parts of the district. There are also contributions from industry, agriculture and quarrying processes. Brake and tyre wear on vehicles and emissions from bonfires also add to the overall concentrations of particles.

Why do we need to reduce exposure to particles?

Particles have been linked to many health impacts. There is extensive evidence that long-term exposure to PM increases mortality and morbidity from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Outdoor air pollution, particularly PM, has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as carcinogenic to humans (a Group 1 carcinogen) and causing lung cancer.

There is also a growing body of evidence that very small particles (ultrafine PM) can pass through the lungs into the bloodstream impacting on brain function and resulting in lower IQ in children and conditions such as dementia.

More information on the health impacts of air pollutants.

Progress to data

During the first year of the Particle Reduction Strategy project we have carried out the following tasks

Bradford PM sensor network

We have introduced a new network of ‘Zephyr’ sensors to investigate particulate concentrations near homes in the Bradford district. Some of these sensors have been placed in locations where we think there are significant amounts of wood burning taking place.

The Zephyr senor network is currently being used to help inform the INGENIOUS indoor air quality research project and the Bradford School Streets programme.

More information about the sensors is available here Air quality monitoring in Bradford.

West Yorkshire Particle Improvement Information Project (PIIP)

We are working with other air quality colleagues across the West Yorkshire region to establish a new West Yorkshire wide particulate sensor network and information dashboard where all the PM data from across West Yorkshire will be able to be viewed online. This project is being undertaken with assistance from the University of Leeds and the Leeds Beckett University. Further PM monitoring will be introduced into the Bradford District during 2024 as part of this project.

Wood burning attitudes and behaviour questionnaire

We have been working with researchers at Sheffield University Psychology Department to better understand the reasons why people choose to burn wood in their homes and how well they understand the health and legal issues around this activity.

30 people living in Bradford who burn solid fuel in their homes have been interviewed by specialist researchers to explore the ways in which they burn solid fuels, whether they are aware of and follow government regulations on solid fuel burning, the reasons they burn solid fuels and what might help or make it difficult to reduce or stop burning solid fuels.

The initial findings of this research are:

  • People have positive emotions and attitudes towards burning solid fuels.
  • People view solid fuel burning as an environmentally sustainable heating method that is unlikely to affect their health
  • Most people think solid fuel burning was a sustainable method for heating their home.
  • Air pollution was not a major concern for those interviewed with fewer than a third considered the appliance’s emission rate when purchasing.
  • Most people reported that they were unlikely to change their solid fuel burning behaviours in the future.
  • The cost of using alternative heating methods and their impact on the planet were the most frequently reported barriers to stopping burning solid fuel.
  • Most people knew what a smoke control area was, but almost half did not know what 'authorised fuels' and 'exempt appliances' were.
  • Most people interviewed did not know that giving off smoke from a chimney can result in a Fixed Penalty Notice or Nuisance Abatement Notice.
  • Government regulations on solid fuel burning were seen as confusing and hard to find. Some people actively searched for information about solid fuel burning regulations, but found it difficult to work out whether they lived in a smoke control area based on existing maps and information, and which fuels were ok to use in which areas and which appliances.
  • Fewer than half burned the correct fuels for their particular area and appliance.

In response to the findings of this report we have improved the level of information about Smoke Control Areas and wood burning on our website and will be carrying out a further health and burning information campaign over the 2023/34 winter period.

West Yorkshire Particulate Emission Inventory Project

We are currently working with air quality colleagues across West Yorkshire and Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC) to develop an improved Particulate Emission Inventory for the West Yorkshire Region. This includes collating local data on the location of solid fuel appliances to try and identify where the highest emissions of particulate matter from domestic premises may be arising. The study is also updating information on local industrial sources, large scale biomass plant and quarries which can also be significant sources of particulate emissions. Once the new emissions inventory is ready it will be compared with health and inequality data for the region to identify where the most urgent action needs to be taken to reduce particulate emissions and improve health. The study will inform the locations for the West Yorkshire PIIP sensor network and will form part of the evidence base for the Bradford Particulate Reduction Strategy.

Particulate monitoring in schools

We are currently developing particle monitoring education resources for use in local schools. The resources will form part of the wider Clean Air Schools Programme (CASP). Easy to use handheld particulate analysers will be made available to schools so that pupils can investigate particulate levels in different parts of their school environment and help to draw up action plans to improve air quality in and around their school. Through the CASP programme schools are able to apply for CAZ grant funding to reduce exposure to pollutants.

Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) emission improvement scheme

During 2024 we will be starting to develop an emission improvement scheme for Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) in Bradford.

The term NRMM is used to describe any mobile machine or vehicle that is not solely intended for carrying passengers or goods on the road. It covers most plant and machinery typically used on construction sites including those with registration plates, such as telehandlers and dumpers, as well as those that are not self-propelled, such as generators and compressors.

Most NRMM are powered by diesel engines. If they are old and/or not well maintained they can give rise to large emissions of diesel particulate and nitrogen dioxide. As there are a number of large scale regeneration projects and house building schemes currently taking place in Bradford it is important that we take action to control emissions from these sources as well as from general road traffic and domestic sources.

The exact format of the NRMM scheme in Bradford has not yet been determined but we are engaging with the existing NRMM scheme in London to learn from their experiences and will carry out consultation with the construction industry in Bradford before implementing a local scheme. It is anticipated that work on a NRMM scheme for Bradford will commence in Summer 2024.

Further updates on progress with the Bradford Particulate Reduction Strategy (PRS) and associated projects will be provided on this website in due course.