What are the sources of air pollution in Cornwall?

The common perception of air quality in Cornwall is that of clean maritime air free from industrial pollution and fortunately this is generally the case. However, that is not always true, particularly in Cornwall’s towns and villages.

Traffic-related pollution

Traffic-related pollution is the primary source of air pollution in Cornwall and can be particularly problematic in narrow, congested streets known as ‘canyon streets’. High volumes of slow moving traffic in some of Cornwall’s major towns have led concentrations of pollution to exceed Government objectives.

Other transport-related sources such as rail and shipping have been investigated by the CAQF but so far have not been cause for concern.

Extractive industries

Cornwall’s famous mining history has left a legacy of contaminated land. Resuspended wind-blown dusts with high concentrations of heavy metals such as arsenic are a potential health concern and have been investigated by the CAQF. Monitoring is also ongoing in the China Clay area.

Other sources

These include tropospheric ozone and particulate matter carried on continental air masses, originating in Europe’s industrial regions; or natural sources, such as Saharan dust events and sea salt.

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