By Greg Dawson
Rising air pollution across the UK has caused hundreds of strokes, heart attacks and asthma attacks, according to research done by a team at Kings College London.
Data from London, Birmingham, Derby, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton has shown that days when pollution levels in these areas were highest there was an average of 231 additional hospital admissions for strokes and an extra 193 children treated for asthma in hospitals.
Globally we are more aware of how pollution affects our health and the pollutants that are the most prevalent and damaging. The most worrying chemicals in our air are Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine particulates.
Nitrogen Dioxide is primarily produced by car exhaust fumes as a by-product of fuel being burned
Sulphur Dioxide is a by-product of fossil fuels being burned. This includes coal, gas and oil industries that burn the fuel to generate electricity.
Carbon Monoxide is produced when there isn’t enough oxygen to burn fuel efficiently, often produced by cookers, wood burners and gas fires.
Fine particulates are often produced by vehicle engines and industrial waste.
Kirklees council assesses the air pollution levels each year publishing their findings on the council website, pinpointing the most concerning pollution and certain trends in high pollution areas.
Most of their research is centred around the residential areas built around primary roads, the top pollutants for concern being nitrogen dioxide and particulates.
The council believes most of Huddersfield air quality issues are centred around the road networks connecting Huddersfield to the M62.
The most recent research by the council was from 2018, showing the areas with the largest concertation of nitrogen dioxide are Linley Moor road in Linley and Manchester Road in Thornton Lodge.
The greatest worry is that nitrogen dioxide and particulates produced by a constant flow of cars is seeping into nearby communities and affecting the quality of life as these areas are shown to exceed air quality objectives set by the government.
This particularly affects vulnerable people such as the young and old but according to the council “There is also often a strong correlation with
equalities issues, because areas with poor air quality are also often the less affluent areas.”
Countrywide restrictions are being set on petrol and diesel cars to reduce emissions as well as a government pledge to scrap petrol and diesel cars by 2040. Many believe this could be a step in the right direction for public and environmental health, while some believe it is too little too late.
Kirklees council set out its own plan in 2018 to tackle this rising problem including:
Retrofitting exhaust reduction Technology on buses across the district.
Work with neighbourhood authorities to create a regional public car charging system
Launch an electric taxi scheme across Kirklees.
In August 2019, West Yorkshire Combined Authority launched the EV charging point scheme across the county. They believe this will help people make the switch from petrol and diesel to electric cars as one of the main factors holding people back from the switch is the availability of charge points.
Cllr Manisha Kaushik, deputy chair of the WYCA Committee said: ‘Around 500 diesel taxis and private hire cars are forecast to be converted to hybrid and pure electric vehicles as a result of us rolling out these charge points.”
88 rapid Charing points have been installed in Bradford and the rest of the £3.2m is set to be completed by the end of this year.
Kirklees annual 2018 air pollution report:https://www.kirklees.gov.uk/beta/crime-and-safety/pdf/kirklees-annual-status-report-2018.pdf