Newly published council air pollution results reveal that Glasgow continues to have high levels of toxic fumes across large parts of the city. (1) Friends of the Earth Scotland has warned that Glasgow City Council needs to take urgent action to reduce air pollution by curbing traffic and introducing low emission zones. Air pollution is a “silent killer” with Government figures showing that the equivalent of 305 Glaswegians die from exposure to air pollution each year. (2)

Glasgow City Councillors will meet to discuss the new results this Wednesday 8 October and have been pressed by Friends of the Earth Scotland to recommend more measures to reduce traffic and to prioritise Low Emission Zones. (3)

Emilia Hanna, Friends of the Earth Scotland Air Pollution campaigner said, 

“The new results confirm that air pollution remains a serious problem in Glasgow, with levels well over safe standards in several parts of the city centre. In some places, like under the Hielenman's Umbrella and on parts of Hope Street, levels of air pollution are twice the legal limit. “Toxic fumes from traffic cause asthma attacks, can increase the chances of having a heart attack or stroke, and reduce life expectancy. Air pollution is Glasgow's biggest environmental health threat, so the Council’s response this Wednesday needs to reflect that. (4)

“Glasgow City Council has been dragging its feet on tackling air pollution for years. Safe standards for air were supposed to be met at the end of 2005 and now the public is being told we will not have clean air until at least 2025. (5) This is unacceptable for those people whose health problems are aggravated by poor air quality.

“Glasgow City Council needs to take serious action to reduce traffic levels in the city centre, by increasing funding to cycling and walking infrastructure, by improving public transport and by restricting parking in the city centre. It also needs to introduce a low emission zone to keep the most polluting buses and cars out of the city centre. In cities like Stockholm, Copenhagen and even London, low emission zones are showing positive results for air quality.”

ENDS

Notes

(1) Glasgow City Council's newly released Air Quality Report can be found at http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=24184&p=0. It shows that in 2013, legal nitrogen dioxide air pollution limits were broken at 3 out of 6 automatic monitoring station sites in the city: Byres Road, Dumbarton Road and Hope Street (Table 2.5). Nitrogen Dioxide legal limits were broken at 17 out of 28 diffusion tube sites in the city centre (Table 2.7) Glasgow has four declared “pollution zones” where levels of pollution are breaking Scottish standards. See Figures 1.1 – 1.4 of the Report.

(2) See Public Health England Report, “Estimating local mortality burdens associated with particulate air pollution” (April 2014), Table 3 on p 20. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil…

(3) The Sustainability and the Environment Policy Development Committee will meet at 13:30 on 8 October, at Glasgow Operations Centre, Eastgate Building, 727 London Road, Glasgow, G40 3AQ. The meeting is open to the public: https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/councillorsandcommittees/latestMeetings.asp?s…

(4) Research published on 21 January revealed that exposure to fine particles in the air led to a higher chance of heart attacks and cases of unstable angina. The research followed over 100,000 people for nearly 12 years. Research published in the British Medical Journal, “Long term exposure to ambient air pollution and incidence of acute coronary events: prospective cohort study and meta-analysis in 11 European cohorts from the ESCAPE Project” BMJ 2014;348:f7412 (http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.f7412). The World Health Organisation announced that globally 7 million people die prematurely each year due to exposure to air pollution: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/air-pollution/en/

(5) The DEFRA projections for when UK cities will meet European air quality standards: http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/assets/documents/no2ten/140708_N02_projection…