Walesby fire air quality report: No significant risks to public health

6 January 2017

Results of air pollution tests carried out following a fire at industrial units in Walesby indicate that it is unlikely to have posed any significant level of harm to the wider population.

Newark and Sherwood District Council agreed to undertake ambient air quality monitoring in response to the concerns raised by local residents and businesses about the potential for harmful emissions to be released from the fire at the Noble Foods site, which started on September 21 last year.

The monitoring was undertaken by S. I. Environmental which was tasked to monitor a range of pollutants that were likely to have arisen from the combustion of waste products at the site. Measurements were taken at three locations:

• Close to the fire where fire fighters were operating
• Downwind of the fire
• Upwind of the fire

A wide range of compounds were monitored including Hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, sulphur dioxide, phenol, , volatile organic compounds, nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxygen, methane and hydrogen sulphide.

There are very few environmental control limits relating to the public’s exposure to pollutants so occupational exposure limits were used as a guide to the harm likely to be caused by any exposure. These limits are more stringent than wider population limits. In all tests that were carried out results indicated that the exposure was within safe levels.

Council business manager – environmental health, Alan Batty, said: “It is important to have addressed concerns regarding the potential dangers of such emissions from this large fire and we are satisfied that, from the results, there is no significant danger to public health. However, we are aware that smoke can be an irritant and if there are any individual concerns we would recommend that you see a GP at the earliest opportunity.”

View the air quality report

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