Toxic fume death numbers increase
. . . and Rutherglen Main Street is black spot
Figures showing the official death toll from toxic fumes belching out vehicle exhausts has nearly doubled spells bad news for the people of Rutherglen.
Earlier in the year the town’s Main Street was identified as one of the country’s most polluted streets.
Latest stats from the UK Government show that more than 3500 people die every year from air pollution in Scotland.
Air pollution from cars, vans, buses and lorries can trigger heart attacks, strokes and cause infections.
The emissions aggravate lung diseases, and can worsen the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people with asthma.
The new estimates of deaths were prompted by a Supreme Court ruling in April requiring the UK government to take urgent action to tackle illegal levels of air pollution in cities.
Last week both the UK and Scottish governments launched new public consultations on their plans.
But environmentalists have attacked Scottish Government proposals to tackle air pollution as “incomplete, vague and lacklustre”.
Patrick Harvie, MSP for Glasgow and Scottish Green Party Coconvenor, said: “It’s shocking that our Government is sitting on the fence while thousands of people are dying from air pollution every year.
“This is not just a mild inconvenience – it’s a public health crisis that’s threatening lives. People should be able to leave the house without having to fear for their health.
“But we must not ignore the root of the problem – there are simply too many private vehicles polluting our communities.
“Getting by without a private car can be very difficult unless people have access to affordable, convenient public transport.
“Improving access to train and bus travel, and developing new cycle paths and walking routes should be a priority.”
Medical experts backed the call for tougher action to cut toxic emissions.
“Our research has continuously shown that air pollution can shorten people’s lives and increase their risk of heart disease and stroke,” said James Cant, director of British Heart Foundation Scotland.
“This is a deadly problem and the government has so far failed to fulfil their duty to protect public health by making sure the air we breathe is safe.”
The Reformer revealed in January that legal safety limits for NO2 and tiny particles that should have been met in 2010 were breached on 23 urban streets – including Main Street, Rutherglen – in 2014.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Since 1990 nitrogen oxide emissions in Scotland have fallen by 67% but further progress is required.
“Following consultation earlier this year on a Low Emission Strategy the Scottish Government are working with partners such as local authorities and Transport Scotland to finalise the strategy for publication later this year.
“This will draw together in one place a range of existing and additional actions which will support delivery of further improvement in air quality across Scotland.”
It’s not an inconvenience –it’s a public health crisis that’s threatening lives
Fuming Rutherglen Main Street is among worst polluted streets