Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

Ambient Air Quality Service


Good air quality is essential for a good quality of life and for achieving the goal of sustainable development. The quality of the air we breathe can be altered by substances released through human activity and natural processes. These include oxides of nitrogen (NOX), sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulates (PM10and PM2.5), ground level ozone (O3), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ammonia (NH3). When released to the air in sufficient quantities, these substances can cause deterioration in human health, acidification and eutrophication of habitats, oxidative damage and nuisance.

Air quality is affected by the emission of pollutants to air and the dispersion, reaction and deposition of the substances emitted. These substances have different impacts on our health and the environment. These can be direct impacts or can be the result of pollutants reacting together.

In order to protect ambient air quality a variety of policy instruments have been introduced at an International, European Union (EU) and United Kingdom level.

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