TAKE AC­TION ON AIR POL­LU­TION

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION - CAM RHODES Full ad­dress sup­plied

FOL­LOW­ING Mon­day’s air pol­lu­tion alert across large parts of the south east of the UK, surely it is about time lo­cal peo­ple be­gan to take some per­sonal and moral re­spon­si­bil­ity for re­duc­ing the high lev­els of toxic fumes that con­trib­ute to so many early deaths each year, as well as dam­ag­ing the health of com­mu­ni­ties and es­pe­cially young chil­dren.

The num­ber of diesel 4x4 ve­hi­cles on our roads in towns in Buck­ing­hamshire seems to be in­creas­ing, with many be­ing used for short com­mutes in built up ar­eas and school runs. How un­nec­es­sary are such ve­hi­cles for such jour­neys?

Given the con­tin­ued breach­ing of le­gal air pol­lu­tion lim­its across the UK, surely it is about time na­tional and lo­cal gov­ern­ment dis­in­cen­tivises the most pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles and ed­u­cates their users about the very real im­pact the fumes are hav­ing on our health and that of our chil­dren.

Ac­cord­ing to Royal Col­leges of Physi­cians and of Pae­di­atrics and Child Health find­ings quoted in 2016, out­door air pol­lu­tion is con­tribut­ing to ap­prox­i­mately 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK.

The south east is heav­ily af­fected by this pol­lu­tion.

Sep­a­rate fig­ures from the Euro­pean En­vi­ron­ment Agency show that the UK had 11,940 pre­ma­ture deaths in 2013 from ni­tro­gen diox­ide (NO2), a toxic gas mostly caused by diesel ve­hi­cles and linked to lung prob­lems.

Go­ing about one’s daily busi­ness in and around Amer­sham and Che­sham, the dis­tinct smell of diesel fumes is all too ap­par­ent when cy­cling or walk­ing close to roads.

It’s dis­heart­en­ing to see an in­creas­ing num­ber of 4x4 and other large diesel ve­hi­cles on our lo­cal roads when ev­i­dence ex­ists to link their fumes to a pub­lic health emer­gency.

The fact that the ef­fects are cu­mu­la­tive and not di­rectly ap­par­ent means that road users can con­ve­niently dip their heads in the sand and pre­tend it’s not an is­sue to take se­ri­ously.

Par­ents above all oth­ers should surely start think­ing more care­fully about just how good an idea it is to drop the kids off at school in heavy pol­luters, and whether they are grad­u­ally putting their own chil­dren at risk of health com­pli­ca­tions.

Our lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives need to grip this is­sue more se­ri­ously now.

The long term costs of not do­ing so for our lo­cal health ser­vices are too great.

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