Skip to Content

Resource hub

Assessing the risks of air pollution impacts to the condition of Areas/Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the UK 2006

Atmosphere Terrestrial JNCC Publications 0963-8091 Evidence JNCC report series Monitoring Pollution Protected sites monitoring Surveillance and Monitoring 387


The Conservation Agencies are required to assess the condition of each designated site. To do this the agencies are instituting a CSM (common standards monitoring) scheme to determine the condition of each site at regular (six yearly) intervals. Sites may be under threat from a wide variety of forces such as inappropriate use and management, climate change, invasive species, pollution and so on. Unfortunately the link between cause and effect can take many years to manifest itself, and in addition it may be difficult to attribute a single cause to an observed effect (as multiple causes can generate very similar looking effects).

Air pollution could have a negative impact on designated sites and hence needs to be investigated by the conservation agencies. The concept of a “critical load” and of a “critical level” has been developing since the late 1980’s for use in national and international assessments. The two approaches are very similar and adopt a strict precautionary principle; the critical load is the amount of pollutant that can be deposited without causing harmful effects to sensitive elements (e.g. soils, waters, vegetation) of the environment according to present knowledge and the critical level is the concentration of a pollutant in the atmosphere below which there are no known harmful effects.

All the major airborne pollutants have been considered but only three groups – oxides of sulphur, nitrogen compounds and ozone – are well enough studied to be suitable for routine and widespread analysis.

Resource type Publication

Topic category Environment

Reference date 2006·04·01

Hall, J., Bealey, B. & Wadsworth, R. 2006. Assessing the risks of air pollution impacts to the condition of Areas/Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the UK, JNCC Report No. 387, JNCC, Peterborough, ISSN 0963-8091.

This project was jointly funded by English Nature (Natural England) and JNCC.

Responsible organisation
Communications, JNCC publisher

Limitations on public access No limitations

Use constraints Available under the Open Government Licence 3.0

Metadata date 2020·01·30

Metadata point of contact
Communications, JNCC

Back to top