AN academic who conducted research into the levels of air pollution in a west Dorset village says it is ‘a cause for concern.’

This follows on from a meeting to the residents from the Chideock Air Quality Working Group, the parish council and Bristol University, which took place on Wednesday, May 22.

The talk was well-attended with more than 40 people attending to hear the results of the research started three years ago when the parish council invited the university to conduct a project investigating the different types of environmental pollution caused by traffic on the A35 which runs through the village.

Dudley Shallcross, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at Bristol University, who conducted the research on behalf of the village said: “The simple fact is that the volume of traffic in the village is causing high levels of particulate matter.

“Put simply, this has prompted us to carry out further research into the matter."

The current legislation from the Air Quality Standards Regulations of 2010 require that concentrations of particulate matter (PM) in the UK must not exceed an annual average of 40 micrograms per cubic metre for PM10, or a 24-hour average of 50 micrograms per cubic metre more than 35 times in a single year for PM 10. Alternatively, areas in the UK must not exceed an annual average of 20 micrograms per cubic metre for PM2.5.

He added: “From the two intensive weeks that we surveyed the village between February to May, we picked up four exceedances for a 24-hour average reading, although we can not be certain, we would suggest strongly that there is a likelihood that this will breach the statutory requirements of particulate matter.”

“There have been volumes of research indicating that breathing in excessive amounts of particulate matter over time is not good for health. It’s a cause for concern.”

According to the professor, inhaling particulate matter can cause ‘some lung, or trachea damage’ depending on how far the particles are taken in. It can act as an irritant, exacerbating respiratory diseases.

Prof Shallcross said that the next steps will be to install a particle sensor as soon as possible and leave it running for a year- as well as putting in devices that measure nitrogen oxide (NO2) to prove that the levels break statutory limits. 

He said: “Any village that sits on a major road will experience levels of pollution, but these levels are exacerbated in Chideock due to its steep hills at both the east and west entrances of the village.

“Breaking down a hill and accelerating up a hill will exacerbate the levels of pollution.”

The research had shown that, on certain days, the levels of PM can be comparable to Marlyebone Road in London.

Following the meeting, the Chideock Air Quality Working Group toured the village with the professor identifying possible positions and locations to take further readings on the levels of air pollution. This is because there is not enough data to show that the rate of micrograms exceeds the limit more than 35 times in a year.

George Dunn and his wife Anne are two of the three members of the Chideock Air Quality Working Group.

Mr Dunn said: “Bristol University will be out conducting measurements in the summer which will give unequivocal proof that the emissions are over the statutory limit.

“The university has been glad to take on the study further, with residents in the village showing a great deal of willingness to offer their gardens up for research.”

Mr Dunn added: “Whilst the levels of nitrogen oxide are still monitored, we are very very concerned about the levels of particulate matter."

Mrs Dunn said: “The Air Quality Management Plan dates to 2007, and so currently there is no way to restrict traffic through the village and keep out HGVs so we are essentially back in the same position than as before.”