Clean Air Everywhere

Levenshulme parents and Manchester Friends of the Earth air pollution investigation reveals cause for concern

7th August 2017

An investigation by a group of Levenshulme parents and Manchester Friends of the Earth into air pollution across Levenshulme has revealed shocking levels of air pollution. [1]

If air pollution levels were as bad all year as they were for the duration of the study this could mean that residents across Levenshulme would be blighted by illegally polluted air – including near schools and nurseries.

Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, but each year in the UK air pollution causes 40,000 early deaths, and stunts the development of children’s lungs. [2]

In Greater Manchester it has been estimated that more than 2,000 people in Greater Manchester are dying prematurely each year [3]

The Levenshulme investigation started after local parents became concerned about air pollution and possible links to common breathing problems locally – including high incidences of wheezing and use of inhalers amongst babies and toddlers. After talking to other parents a group of local parents installed monitoring tubes at locations where levels of air pollution were considered to be worrying, including outside schools and nurseries and on the congested A6 Stockport Road.

The parents group monitored levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in six locations in Levenshulme – including near Chapel Street Primary School, Grange School, Littleways nursery and Arcadia leisure centre and library – and every single result was over the legal limit. One air pollution recording at Stockport Road and Matthews Lane was almost twice the legal level, hitting 72.41 ug/m3. [4]

The pollution was monitored  for two weeks, providing a snapshot of NO2 pollution for that time. [5] NO2 is a toxic gas which inflames the lining of the lungs. The legal annual limit for NO2 is 40 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3) but there are no safe levels of exposure to air pollution.

Over half of local councils do not monitor air quality outside schools, and freedom of information requests from Manchester Friends of the Earth reveal that Manchester City Council only monitors close to 3 schools across the council area. [6]

Levenshulme mum Sophie Smith-Rudge, who has a two year old daughter, said:

“It terrifies me to think what our children are breathing in – dirty air affects their health for the rest of their lives.

“We need urgent action from local and national government to clean up our air. The Government knows the scale of the air pollution crisis yet its plans to tackle it are insultingly weak – we need far less traffic and diesel vehicles in our communities, cheaper and more accessible public transport, and more attractive walking and cycling for everyone.”

Pete Abel of Manchester Friends of the Earth, said:

“Air pollution is an invisible killer. In Greater Manchester at least 2000 people die early every year as a result of pollution.

“We know road traffic is the biggest problem – and diesel is the worst of all. Which is why we need bold action to get diesel vehicles off our roads and safe cycle routes to enable people to cycle and walk  more.

“Car manufacturers who helped create this mess, need to cough up for a diesel scrappage scheme to help motorists shift to clean vehicles and alternatives to driving.

“It’s just not right that our children and grand-children are growing up breathing dirty air, which can actually lead to lung problems for life. We need clean air now.”

Manchester Friends of the Earth held a stall at Levenshulme market over the weekend and gathered over seventy letters to local MPs demanding national action to clean up our air. If anyone is interested in getting involved in a clean air campaign in Levenshulme and other areas in Greater Manchester please contact:



For more information contact: Pete Abel 07951 642858 or Helen Rimmer 07940 006783


Editor’s notes:

  1. For more information about Friends of the Earth’s Clean Air campaign or for Clean Air Kits to monitor air pollution.
  2. Air pollution costs lives and billions of pounds. It is one of the UK’s biggest killers, causing 40,000 early deaths  in the UK every year. Dirty air leads to worsening asthma symptoms, heart disease and even lung cancer. Air pollution has even been associated with changes in the brain linked to dementia and can lead to children growing up with smaller lungs. For more information please see What are the effects of air pollution? and
  4. Full nitrogen dioxide diffuse tube monitoring results:
Location Results ug/m3
Grange School, Matthews Lane, M12 4GR 40.16
114 Barlow Road M19 3EF (nr Chapel St school) 42.24
Littleways nursery, 80 Albert Road M19 2FU 51.50
256 Broom Lane, M19 3NA (nr Barlow Rd traffic lights) 61.57
847 Stockport Road M19 3PW (at Albert Rd crossroad) 70.16
709 Stockport Road M19 3AG (nr Matthews Lane crossroad) 72.41


  1. The results are from diffusion tube monitoring and provide a snapshot of the air pollution for the time and places that were monitored. They are not directly comparable to annual data, because over a year the weather varies considerably and level of air pollution with it, so the annual mean results could look very different. However, Manchester City Council’s annual monitoring station on Stockport Road also shows levels over the legal limit of 40 ug/m3 and therefore these results are supported by official council data.
  2. Over half of local councils do not monitor air quality outside schools: FOIs revealed Manchester CC monitors near three schools (St Paul’s Catholic High School M23 2YS, St Peter’s Catholic Primary School M23 2YS, Chetham’s School of Music M3 1SB)
  3. Manchester Friends of the Earth is an award-winning environmental campaign group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on the group’s website: Manchester Friends of the Earth is a Licensed Local Group of Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  4. Photos available via Manchester Friends of the Earth Flickr album.