Air and river quality

There are many things you can find out about your local environment. You can check the air quality in your area and how clean your local rivers are. The Environmental Information Regulations also give you the right to access environmental information from public bodies.

Air quality

Local air quality information is collected at 19 sites across Northern Ireland. Information is available for the following pollutants:

  • nitrogen oxides
  • sulphur dioxide
  • lead
  • particulate matter
  • benzene
  • carbon monoxide
  • ground level ozone

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs' AirqualityNI website gives live local air quality information. Levels of air pollutants are given a number on the Air Quality Index from 1 (low levels of pollutants) to 10 (high levels). This helps you to easily see what the air quality is like in your area.

You can also find out what the latest air pollution levels are like and get forecasts for your area from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs' Air Pollution Bulletin service.

If you suffer from a chronic illness that affects your breathing, such as asthma or heart disease, you can receive alerts free to your mobile phone, to let you know when air pollution levels are high.

Your local council may also have its own air quality information.


The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) monitors river quality at over 540 sites in NI, covering 5,500km. Lakes over 50 hectares in area are also monitored regularly. This monitoring includes chemical and biological indicators of ecological water quality. This information is publicly available. Rivers are classified by the Water Framework Directive classification, which classifies rivers and lakes on a five band quality classification from high to bad.

River Basin Planning

The Water Framework Directive is implemented through River Basin Plans, creating a six-yearly cycle of planning, action and review. The first planning cycle covered the period from December 2009 to December 2015, with the second continuing from December 2015 to December 2021. The Water Framework Directive requires NIEA to protect the status of the water bodies from deterioration and where necessary and practicable to restore water bodies to good status.

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