AIR pollution levels in Swansea appear to have improved again, despite an annual Bonfire Night spike, a council report has said.
The authority measures pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, whose main source is vehicle exhausts, and other tiny particles of matter which can affect respiratory health.
Its air quality progress report for 2018 said there were no monitoring locations in the city which exceeded annual mean levels for nitrogen dioxide.
Neath Road, Hafod, has historically had air pollution problems but the opening of the nearby Morfa Distributor Road and the launch of the council’s real-time roadside messaging system – called Nowcaster – have contributed to a second successive year of improved nitrogen dioxide results.
The report added that all monitoring sites were compliant with annual and daily mean levels for a tiny particle called PM10, while objectives for sulphur dioxide, benzene, nickel lead were also met.
But there were mixed results for ozone. Compliance with the UK objective was achieved at Hafod and Morriston, but St Thomas had 32 eight-hour breaches during the year, and Cwm Level Park, near Brynhyfryd, had 12. The permitted number is 10.
Cllr Peter Jones, the convenor of a scrutiny panel which discussed the findings on December 16, said he would like to see less engine idling outside schools in particular.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Jones said: “There needs to be some action to educate parents about the risk they pose to their own children by running their engines unnecessarily.”
The report before the panel said vehicles contracted by the council, like school buses, should not keep their engines idling when the layover time exceeded 10 minutes.
Two months ago, Swansea’s cabinet member for education, Cllr Jennifer Raynor, said consideration could be given to banning traffic on streets outside some Swansea schools at certain times of the day.
Nitrogen dioxide levels are monitored outside eight primary and secondary schools in Swansea, and there is no evidence of limits being breached.
Cllr Jones said the scrutiny panel would examine air pollution again in around six months’ time.
“There was a recognition that levels particularly of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter are not exceeding what we are told represent safe levels – but it is my perception that there is no safe level,” he said.
Cllr Jones said a reduction in the number of older diesel cars on the roads was having a positive impact.
He added that the council was, in his view, doing its best to keep air pollution levels low.
Levels spiked between 6pm and midnight on November 5, as fireworks exploded across the city.
The authority established the Hafod Air Quality Management Area in 2001 due to concerns about pollution levels. This became the Swansea Air Quality Management Area in 2010, with parts of Sketty and Fforestfach included.
Earlier this month, the Welsh Government published a clean air plan targeting emissions from industry and roads. It also considered the impact of wood-burning stoves.
Ministers are keen to publish a new Clean Air Act during the current Assembly term.
“We have made good progress but we must continue to improve,” said Environment Minister Lesley Griffiths.