Deadly air pollution in our cities
BRITAIN has been urged to clean up its act after it emerged that 10 cities and towns are breaking international limits for air pollution.
A World Health Organisation report out today says areas from Southampton to Scunthorpe had breached safe levels for fine particulate matter, known as “PM10”.
This includes soot which is pumped out of car exhausts.
The 10 urban areas breaking the limit are Port Talbot, Stanford-le-Hope, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Scunthorpe, Eastbourne, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton.
The WHO said many more urban areas broke limits for smaller air pollution particles.
Campaigner Client Earth was recently given court permission to pursue a judicial review of the Government’s failure to meet EU targets.
And last month MPs called for clean air zones in towns and cities across England.
In February, a study put the cost of air pollution to the UK at £20billion a year.
Friends of the Earth said particulates cause lung cancer and worsen heart disease, shortening the lives of 40,000 people a year in the UK.
Although the report revealed that particulate levels are slowly coming down across Europe, it also said towns and cities were being polluted by nitrogen dioxide, mainly from traffic.
Jenny Bates, of Friends of the Earth, said: “The figures for Europe might look like they’re improving but we’re still talking about dangerous levels of pollution.
“This is yet another report which shows the air we breathe is unsafe. With 40,000 early deaths a year what more will it take for political leaders to act? This is a public health crisis – it’s time it was treated that way.
“We need fewer and cleaner vehicles and a clean air zone in every city. Politicians must introduce a diesel scrappage scheme to get the worst vehicles off our roads.”
The Government plans clean air zones for Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton.
Councils could then charge drivers for entering polluted areas during rush hour.