Borough Insight

It’s the air that you breathe

It is estimated that air pollution is contributing to more than 29,000 premature deaths in the UK every year — that's 10 times the number killed in road accidents.

Air pollution is defined as a mixture of gases and particles that have been emitted into the atmosphere by man-made processes. The combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, petrol and diesel is the most significant source of the key pollutants of concern to local authorities

Historically, the main air pollution problem in both developed and rapidly industrialising countries has typically been high levels of smoke and sulphur dioxide emitted following the combustion of sulphur-containing fossil fuels such as coal, used for domestic and industrial purposes.

In the Epsom & Ewell area the main source of pollution is from road traffic.

The Council’s Environmental Health Department is responsible for investigating complaints and responding to pollution incidents in relation to air quality, industrial pollution, bonfires, dust, fumes and odour.  This is in addition to routine day to day monitoring of pollution and regulation of industrial processes.
The Environmental Health department frequently looks at the levels of pollution across the Borough. This is through the use of two methods. They are known as a continual analyser and diffusion tubes.

The tubes are changed every month and are located at 27 different locations across the Borough and show what pollution levels were for a month period. The continual analyser is located in Ewell High Street and measures the air quality every 15 minutes and is much more accurate.

Air quality in Ewell High Street is closely monitored, as the area has been designated as an Air quality Management Area  as the levels of pollution are frequently above the value set by DEFRA to be met; this means that improvements have to be made to improve air quality in this area.


Residents of Epsom & Ewell can take advantage of a free warning service of poor air quality as the Council is part of a Surrey group of Council’s partnered with airAlert.

airAlert is a free text, voicemail, e-mail and web service that sends registered individuals air pollution alerts when levels in their area increase to a moderate level or above. There is also an app in development.

The airAlerts are only sent if a forecast is likely to be above the UK Air Quality Banding level “Moderate” or higher e.g. pollution levels which may trigger symptoms of respiratory illnesses.

InhalerAlerts are sent out on the day before moderate levels are forecast. The service allows individuals to receive alerts for different locations e.g. home or work.

airAlert can assist individuals make choices on what they do, where they choose to go to or if they need to take their medication with them.

There are three ways to sign up by:

  • Registering online at 
  • Telephoning 01737 276403 or 01372 474750
  • Completing the registration form in the airAlert leaflet which can be obtained from the Wellbeing Centre, Longmead Centre, Sefton Road, Epsom or from the Environmental Health department at the Town Hall.

More information on the service, along with details on how to sign up, can be found at:

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