New data revealed today (19/11/18) gives a detailed picture of Aberdeen’s widespread air pollution problem. The online map will allow Aberdonians to get a fuller picture of toxic air in the city and campaigners believe it will further increase calls for action from the Council.

The 2017 data obtained from Aberdeen City Council shows 13 locations have levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) exceeding the legal limits. The European Air Quality Directive set a limit for NO2 of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre, so all these sites are breaking the legal limit. The deadline for compliance was 1 January 2010.

Aberdeen Council is currently drawing up plans for a Low Emission Zone in the city but has not given any details on location, timescale or vehicles to be included.

The Scottish Government has said Aberdeen and 3 other cities will have LEZs in operation by 2020. The plans for Glasgow’s LEZ have been widely criticised for being insufficient to address the city’s toxic air crisis.

Friends of the Earth Aberdeen co-ordinator Gregor McAbery commented,

“These worrying figures demonstrate the severity and the scale of Aberdeen’s largely traffic related air pollution problems. The city centre is comprehensively failing to meet legal standards, and this air pollution is damaging all of our health and shortening lives. I hope the Council will retain the focus to bring forward and enforce an effective city centre wide low emissions zone that includes key routes in and around the city centre. It should start with large vehicles like buses and trucks, but must roll out incrementally over a few years to eventually cover all vehicles including cars.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland Air Pollution Campaigner Gavin Thomson commented,

“Air pollution on Scottish streets causes 2,500 early deaths each year. Toxic air from traffic in Aberdeen particularly endangers children, the elderly and those who are already suffering ill health. Air pollution where people live and work is causing damage to health every day and the Council needs to act swiftly to cut illegal pollution levels.

“People in Aberdeen need to know that the Council is working on plans to clean up the city’s pollution problems through a Low Emission Zone. These Zones, which are common in European cities, work by keeping the most polluting vehicles out of the most polluted places to protect the public’s health.

“Aberdeen’s LEZ must be ambitious in scope, set out a clear timetable for when different types of vehicles will be included and be communicated to the public and business so they can plan ahead”.

In addition to Low Emission Zones, campaigners are also calling for more to be done to prioritise sustainable forms of travel. Thomson concluded,

“By making it easier for people to walk, cycle and use public transport, Aberdeen Council can tackle pollution and congestion, and improve the health of the city.”

Next Sunday 25 November from 12-2pm will see a demonstration about pollution, near to city hotspots on Union Street. Rachel Martin from Aberdeen Cycle Forum, who are organising the event commented,

“Aberdeen is a fantastic place to live but pollution from motor vehicles is damaging our health. We want our city to be a place where everyone can breathe clean air and we believe this will make it a more appealing place to live, visit, and do business.”

“We chose St Nicholas Street because it is near two pollution hotspots where thousands of people are exposed to toxic air every day. Aberdonians are rightly concerned about the effects of pollution on their health and the health of their families and we want the council to take urgent action. ”

“Everyone is welcome to come along, say hello, and find out what they can do to tackle air pollution in our city.”

Notes to Editors

  1. View the map at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Dlj0aXNOIabJoynYM0VbwYi7kyiL7w6d&usp=sharing
  2. The data was obtained from the 2018 Air Quality Annual Progress Report for Aberdeen City Council http://www.scottishairquality.scot/assets/documents//Aberdeen_APR_2018_002.pdf
  3. Nitrogen Dioxide is poisonous gas caused by burning of fossil fuels in car engines. Exposure to NO2 is known to be linked to increased mortality and respiratory problems. Nitrogen dioxide inflames the lining of the lung and reduces immunity to lung infections such as bronchitis. https://www.londonair.org.uk/LondonAir/guide/WhatIsNO2.aspx
  4. Research shows 2500 deaths a year in Scotland from air pollution https://foe.scot/press-release/new-research-means-2500-deaths-a-year-in-scotland-are-from-air-pollution/
  5. The 2017/18 Programme for Government included a commitment to 4 Low Emission zones in Scotland’s biggest cities by 2020.
  6. Glasgow’s LEZ will commence on 31 December 2018 but will only initially apply to 20% of buses travelling through the city centre. It has been widely criticised as being a ‘No Ambition Zone’ that will fail to protect the most vulnerable people in the city from illegal pollution levels.
  7. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
    * Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
    * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
    * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.