A view from groundlevel to the roof of the Radcliffe Camera, with a dark, cloudy sky behind it


Oxford to host a special air quality conference

Published: 20 June 2019

Author: Richard Lofthouse


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Clean Air Day UK, June 20th, 2019.

National Clean Air Day, June 20th, 2019, seeks to raise awareness of the impact of poor air quality on public health. 

The University of Oxford marks the annual Clean Air Day by announcing special one day conference. 

Titled The Oxford Air Quality Meeting, this event will take place on Friday, January 10th, 2020, 9am-5pm, at Keble College.

Convenor Dr Felix Leach, of the Department of Engineering, notes that the programme will bring together experts in vehicle emissions, air quality measurement, public health and policy, including prominent alumni.

He says, 'the Oxford Air Quality Meeting aims to draw together four different groups of people:

  1. People who measure and know about air quality
  2. People who know about how vehicles emit
  3. People who understand the effects of air pollution on humans
  4. People trying to implement in the real-world solutions

The aim is to facilitate interactions and discussions across a wide range of stakeholders in the air quality field. Recent advances in real driving emissions measurement mean that greater understanding of roadside vehicle emissions is being developed. In addition low cost air quality sensing and an increasing insight into how various pollutants effect humans mean that the evidence base is growing rapidly. The Oxford Air Quality Meeting will bring together all of these groups, alongside policy makers to enable future improvements in Air Quality.

Conference Sessions:

Session 1 – Air Quality and measurement


Session 2 – Emissions


Session 3 – Health Effects & Policy

Oxford's City Council stole some headines last year by announcing plans for an ambitious ultra low emission zone (ULEZ). This reflects persistently illegal levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) that have been measured in locations such as the High Street, plied as it is by endless heavy diesel engines - buses, coaches and hackney cabs - even though it is effectively shut to private cars. 

Any alumnus or alumna knows that rheumy conditions have always prevailed in Oxford, owing to a high water table and bowl-geography. But this can intensify the thermal inversion that traps pollution at ground level, mixing innocent mistiness with deadly particles from car and lorry exhausts - the subject of a barrage of books and papers in recent years.

Oxford has a plan but it also has a problem. Dr Leach's conference will seek to pinpoint the issues and table solutions.

Looking up Botley Road toward Frideswide Square from the pedestrian bridge which crosses the road, with heavy traffic in both directions

The Botley Road is a notorious congestion spot, but worse, it's where everyone pours out of the station on foot, so the human exposure rises accordingly


A sign on the pavement of Frideswide Square, indicating shared cycle and pedestrian use

Frideswide Square was redesigned with pedestrians and cyclists in mind, but the poor air quality from bottlenecked traffic has continued unabated


Conference registration.


About Clean Air Day
Clean Air Day is the UK’s biggest air pollution campaign. It’s a chance to find out more about air pollution, share information, and make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone.

Clean Air Day, which this year takes place on 20 June, is coordinated by environment charity Global Action Plan and is supported by more than 200 organisations, including Public Health England, British Heart Foundation, British Cycling, Royal College of Physicians, DEFRA, UNICEF, Asthma UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital and additional NHS trusts and local authorities.