Tackling air pollution

We currently have a campaign to tackle air pollution across Newham. 
This blogpost summarises why we think this is important, and what we plan to do about it.

What is air pollution?

There are many pollutants which contribute to air pollution(more information can be found here). The biggest threat to clean air these days is traffic emissions. Petrol and diesel-engined vehicles emit a variety of pollutants, principally carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM10).

What are the consequences of air pollution?

Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett said:

Air pollution causes 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK and it’s a disgrace that the Coalition government have largely neglected this worsening problem. There has been far too little action from authorities despite 15 years of warnings and several extensions and postponements granted to the government”

There is good evidence that air pollution has consequences forhuman health. Specifically, the following groups are more likely to be affected by air pollution:

  • Adults and children with heart or lung conditions
  • Older people
  • Children

However, if the levels are particularly high it can affect the general population. The health impact will be worse if a) there are high levels of air pollution and b) people are exposed over a long time period.

So, what do we know about air pollution across Newham?

In 2001 Newham Borough Council (NBC) confirmed that some areas close to major roads were exceeding levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PM10. These findings required NBC to declare an Air Quality Management Area, which they did in March 2003 – and they produced an action plan.

NBC produced a progress report in 2008, which confirmed that NO2 levels were still higher than target levels (annual average and hourly measurements).

What do we want to do in Newham?

  • Measure air pollution level across Newham
  • Raise awareness where high levels of air pollution exist
  • Promote green solutions to reduce air pollution

We’re planning to start a citizen science project soon. This will require us to identify community areas of concern, measure the air pollution using diffuser tubes, and share the results with the community.  We will be sure to update the blog with further details as we progress.

For information on The Green Party’s policies on pollution, click here.

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