Diffusion tubes are widely used by Local Authorities for the purpose of monitoring ambient nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels, in the context of reviewing and assessing air quality in their local areas.
Diffusion tubes are particularly useful:
The table below shows the system of coloured bands and ranges that was developed by all the local authorities in Oxfordshire, to demonstrate how diffusion tube measurements (latest and historic) are interpreted in Oxfordshire.
Seven coloured bands have been developed to provide detail about air pollution levels (measured as NO2) in a simple way. These go from light green (representing very low concentrations) to purple (representing very high concentrations).
|Colour Bands||Range (µg/m3)|
|Low||10 to 19|
|Moderate||20 to 29|
|Moderate||30 to 39|
|High||40 to 49|
|High||50 to 59|
The current UK legal annual limit value for NO2 is 40 µg/m3.
The same colours of the Air Quality Index were used on the development of the Oxfordshire diffusion tube index bands, in order to simplify the interpretation and facilitate comparison between the two systems.
The range of intervals has been developed for each colour, taking into consideration:
- The latest World Health Organisation Recommended Guidelines, (published in November 2021) which establish a much more stringent set of concentrations and interim targets for NO2
- The most recent Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) Technical Guidance, that Local Authorities are required to follow (LAQM TG 22)
- The UK’s current air quality limits and objectives for NO2
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that annual mean concentrations of NO2 should not exceed the value of 10 ug/m3