Toxic fume death num­bers in­crease

. . . and Ruther­glen Main Street is black spot

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Strat­ton Wil­liams

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

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