Air Quality is the leading cause of the environmental burden of disease in Europe and a key public health concern in Wales. 40,000 additional deaths a year in Europe are attributable to poor air quality and research suggests that 143 deaths per year are caused by air pollution in Cardiff.
Carbon emissions per person in Cardiff have fallen in the last decade and are lower than both the UK and Wales averages. However, there is work to do if Cardiff is to meet the performance of similar local authorities; emissions per capita are second highest (behind Leeds) amongst the ‘Core Cities’. As the city grows the impacts of additional homes and vehicles will also have to be considered. Road transport continues to be a major source and its percentage share of emissions has increased since 2005.
Nitrogen dioxide (N02) in the air is mostly caused by road traffic and to an extent by energy production. Too much N02 in the air can increase the numbers of respiratory illnesses, especially among children. In residential areas of Cardiff, average N02 concentrations are the highest in Wales. Levels of N02 found in the city centre are also the highest amongst Welsh local authorities and exceed EU pollution limits.
Despite the above, Cardiff is joint 4th among European capital cities in terms of residents’ satisfaction with air quality. This may indicate a need to educate Cardiff citizens about the implications of poor air quality and what they can do (in terms of using more sustainable forms of transport, for example) to improve it.