Science: Section 6

Solutions: What can we do about it?

Although our air quality in Scotland is relatively good, when compared with other areas of the world, there is still room to make it even better. The Scottish Governments, Local Authorities, SEPA and other organisations all help to reduce air pollution, either in direct or indirect ways. Perhaps one of the most important people involved in tackling air pollution is you.

You and Your Family

We, as individuals, can work together to help make our air cleaner and air pollution levels will fall. There are many ways you and your family can help improve the air quality in Scotland. It might not seem like much, but if everyone does a little, it will have a great effect.

Travel and Transport


Think about your journey: Do you have to go by car, or could you use another method?

  • Walking
  • Cycling – tried and tested for 190 years. Still zero emissions
  • Public Transport – put your feet up and relax, catch up on your reading
  • Car Sharing – share the journey, have a laugh
  • Try to travel outside peak times where possible: less congestion means faster journeys, which in turn creates less pollution. We can't always change when we go to school or work, but less important journeys, such as shopping or visiting friends, can be done at quieter times of the day.
  • Avoid leaving your engine idling when not in use: New laws mean your parents could be issued with a fine!
  • Service your car regularly: Keep the engine properly tuned and the tyres at the right pressure. A happy car is an efficient car!
  • Conserve energy wherever possible. Turn off appliances like your television or radio when not in use.
  • Don't forget to switch off lights when you leave the room.
  • Recycle paper, plastic, glass bottles, cardboard, and aluminium cans. This conserves energy and reduces production emissions.
  • Turn down the thermostat in your home.
  • Wash clothes with warm or cold water instead of hot.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries for devices used frequently.
  • Try growing your own fruit and veg rather than buying it
  • Plant trees to help green our cities

What are the Governments doing?

The Scottish Government works with Local Authorities and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to identify areas with poor air quality and improve it if required. A Low Emission Strategy is being developed for Scotland which sets out how air quality will be improved across the country.

The Scottish Government have also committed to produce the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Scotland has the largest offshore renewable energy resources in the EU! (25% of EU offshore wind, 25% of EU tidal and 10% of EU wave power).

Getting energy from these renewable sources will all help to reduce carbon emissions.

Catalytic Converters

As cars are one of the main contributors to urban air pollution, many things have already been done to make them more eco-friendly. 

Since 1993, all new cars sold in the European Union have to be fitted with a catalytic converter. This is part of the exhaust system of a car that can convert harmful gases into less harmful gases.  It contains some very expensive metals such as platinum and can change carbon monoxide and harmful nitrogen dioxide into carbon dioxide , nitrogen and oxygen. 

This is shown in the diagram below:-

Catalytic Converter

Catalytic Converter

Even with all of these improvements and changes, pollutants such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide can still be produced when fuels burn. In order to get ‘clean’ air we need to use ‘clean’ energy.