07710 409590

Clean Air for Oxfordshire

Oxford Friends of the Earth is a thriving and effective local group that has been active for over 40 years. Our purpose is to work together to promote a healthy and sustainable environment

Poor air quality is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, causing asthma, heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Oxfordshire has some of the worst air pollution problems in the country, mainly due to domestic burning and heavy traffic.

Jan. 2024 – Update – Preliminary findings from the Oxford Particulates Monitoring Project

Oxford FoE have established a network of small PurpleAir particulate monitors across Oxford. We have now done a preliminary analysis of the data from these monitors. More detail is available here, but the key findings are:

  • Cold spells are strongly associated with high particulate levels. This is evidence for domestic combustion as the main source of high 
    levels of particulates pollution.
  • When pollution levels are high, there is a close correlation between the readings from the official City Council monitor and PurpleAir monitors at the same location.
  • There are often large differences in pollution between different locations in the city.
  • Most of the city has worse particulate levels than St. Ebbe’s School, where the official monitor is located.

Nov. 2022 – Update – New campaign on particulate pollution

Oxford FoE is working with Oxford City Council on a new campaign to tackle the health and environmental harms of using wood burning stoves. Under the banner ‘Do You Fuel Good?’ the campaign aims to educate and inform anyone who uses wood burning stoves and open fireplaces on the harms they cause, and inform them of ways to reduce their negative impacts on human health and the environment. In Oxford city, 66% of all local fine particulates (PM2.5) come from domestic heating, compared with only 21% coming from transport. This includes the use of gas heating and cookers as well as solid fuel stove. For full info click here.

What’s the problem?

There are two main air pollution problems in Oxford: particulates and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). 

Particulates are ultra-small particles that can be easily absorbed through the lungs and into the bloodstream with serious health consequences, especially for the young and the elderly. In Oxford, domestic combustion (e.g. open fires and wood burners) accounts for two thirds of the most concerning particulates (PM2.5), with the rest coming from construction and transport: cars, trucks, buses, taxis and trains. Here are current particulate levels in Oxford:

NO2 pollution is produced mainly by transport. You can see the problem areas for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on this national Friends of the Earth map.

We have an Air Quality Working Group and welcome new people to work with our campaign. If you’d like to know more email: cleanair@oxfoe.co.uk.