Keith launches air pollution report in Canterbury

Earlier today Keith joined clean air campaigners in Canterbury as he launched his air pollution report.

The report reveals that hundreds of children in Canterbury go to school near polluted roads, which could have a serious impact on their health. [1]

Approximately 1659 children and young people of school age in Canterbury are attending schools within a 150m radius of heavy traffic points.

3993 children are going to school within 450 meters of the City’s busiest roads. The report, which follows last week’s serious smog episode, finds that schools across Kent are nearby to some of the county’s busiest roads.

Road traffic is the biggest source of air pollution in the UK, particularly as cars, lorries and trucks release toxic fumes in the air. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Particulate Matter (PM) and Ground Level Ozone (O3) are the pollutants which are particularly dangerous for human health, causing both respiratory and heart problems. [2]

Children and the elderly are most at risk from high levels of air pollution. Research has shown that living near heavy traffic points (roads where 10,000 or more cars pass daily) can be attributed to 15-30% of new asthma cases in children as well as affecting the development of lung capacity. [3] Short term exposure to air pollution can result in irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, as well as bronchitis and pneumonia. In the long term, air pollution can result in lung diseases, cancer, nerve, kidney, liver and brain damage, as well as heart attacks.

Breakdown of KENT Schools with DfT road links (10,000+ vehicles per day) within 150m

Area

Primary, Nursery and Special Schools

Secondary Schools, Colleges and Sixth Forms

Total

No. of Schools

 

No. of Pupils

(approx.)

No. of Schools

 

No. of Pupils

(approx.)

No. of Schools

No. of Pupils

(approx.)

Kent 7 3069 5 4141 12 7210

Keith Taylor, who produced the ‘Polluted Playgrounds’ report, said:

“This report makes clear just how many children in Canterbury are going to school near busy roads that are likely to be very polluted.

We know that air pollution is a serious threat to children’s health, and we know that thousands of people die every year because of the effects of air pollution.

It’s abundantly clear that action on air pollution is needed. Many of our towns and cities need to radically rethink the way they are dealing with air pollution.

In Canterbury the city council is making some steps in the right direction, with facilities like the covered cycle parking near the Westgate Tower encouraging people to use cleaner transport options. Indeed the Council’s draft transport strategy is very promising. But we need to go much further, much faster to reduce the risk posed by serious air pollution to children. We must shift investment away from car travel towards safer, clean public transport, walking and cycling.

We need clean public transport options, plus a huge improvement in the numbers of people cycling and walking. With the EU Commission threatening to the fine this county we also need the UK Government to take this problem seriously and invest in local schemes that will cut air pollution.”

ENDS

For interviews/further information please contact Matthew Butcher (Media Officer for Keith Taylor MEP) on 0207 250 8418 or 07940 500633 or email keithpress@greenmeps.org.uk

For high quality (non copyright) photographs of Keith Taylor MEP please feel free to use any from his Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithtaylormep/

1) http://issuu.com/greenkeithmep/docs/air_pollution_web

2) The causes of air pollution: http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/documents/What_are_the_causes_of_Air_Pollution.pdf

3) Scientific research published recently by the Aphekom group of scientists has shown that those living near roads travelled by 10,000 or more vehicles per day on average could be responsible for some 15-30 per cent of all new cases of asthma in children; and of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and CHD (coronary heart disease) in adults 65 years of age and older.  The same study further estimated that, on average for all 10 cities studied, 15-30 per cent of exacerbations of asthma in children, acute worsening of COPD and acute CHD problems are attributable to air pollution. http://www.aphekom.org/web/aphekom.org/home