Act now to stop air pollution deaths

Air pollution
Air pollution

Councils in Nottinghamshire could be ordered to plan new schools, care homes and health centres away from major roads because of fears over air pollution.

The pollution is responsible for more than 500 deaths a year across the county and 29,000 annually in the UK.

MPs have issued a report to say more action is needed to protect young and vulnerable people from the effects of pollution.

Simon Gillespie, the chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “The government cannot continue to ignore this issue. Enough is enough. The government must act on these recommendations quickly if we are to improve the quality of the air we breathe and protect the nation’s heart health.”

Asthma UK chief executive Kay Boycott said: “In the short term some of the measures recommended in this report, such as the publicising of high air pollution forecasts, could help people with asthma know in advance if they should seek advice from their GP or asthma nurse.”

A government spokesperson said: “Clean air is vital for people’s health and, while air quality has improved significantly in recent decades, we are investing heavily in measures across government to continue this, committing £2bn since 2011 in green transport initiatives.”

Traffic accounts for 70 per cent of the harm caused by air pollution in local urban areas.

Pollutants include, nitrogen dioxide which can aggravate conditions like asthma and particulate matter which is invisible specks of linked to heart and lung diseases as well as cancer.

Nottingham city and Nottinghamshire County Council say they will be looking at what can be done to improve the county’s air. Ideas include improving the network of electric buses and encouraging more people to walk and cycle instead of taking the car.

The council report says that 150 deaths in the city of Nottingham are caused by long-term exposure to air pollution, with a further 430 in the county. Pollutants aggravate existing lung conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema.