13th Nov, 2018

Dangerous levels of air pollution in Coventry is a 'scandal' putting health at risk

Felix Nobes 5th May, 2018 Updated: 6th May, 2018

DANGEROUS levels of air pollution in Coventry are a ‘scandal’ putting residents health at risk.

The city is one of 31 areas in the UK to be exceeding the air pollution limits outlined by the World Health Organisation.

It states fine particle matter – known as PM2.5s – should not exceed ten micrograms per cubic metre of air.

The latest data has shown in Coventry these were found to have reached 11 micrograms.

Public Health England figures – from 2014 – show 168 people were dying prematurely every year due to air pollution in Coventry.

The Royal College of Physicians report said pollution contributes to many chronic health problems, particularly respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, with growing evidence it was also a factor in strokes and dementia.

The latest available Coventry City Council data shows numerous breaches of the Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) legal limits.

The European Union has set a legal average annual limit for NO2 at 40µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre).

The council’s website says NO2 is measured by small plastic tubes called diffusion tubes.

The tubes are replaced every 4-5 weeks and sent for analysis at a laboratory.

Because of their low cost these tubes can be used in a wide area and there are about 60 around the city on busy roads and junctions.

Data shows 28 of 49 Coventry diffusion tubes for which there is available data – show a breach of the EU limit.

The highest breaches were from diffusion tubes on Holyhead Road which recorded over 60µg/m3 and over 75µg/m3.

Other hotspots were Walsgrave Road which recorded 51µg/m3 and Foleshill Road which recorded over 50µg/m3.

Nuneaton councillor Keith Kondaker, who submitted Freedom of Information requests to Coventry council on NO2 levels, said: “Air pollution in Coventry is a scandal. I had to use freedom of information laws to get the latest data and reports.

“It seems the plan Coventry is developing is a secret. That is not a good sign.”

The Coventry 2016 Air Quality Annual Status Report says: “Additionally, air pollution particularly affects the most vulnerable in society: children and older people, and those with heart and lung conditions.

“There is also often a strong correlation with equalities issues, because areas with poor air quality are also often the less affluent areas.”

Merle Gering – a passionate environmental campaigner – said: “It is static traffic that causes the pollution and Coventry has no infrastructure plan to address the traffic chaos that is to come.

“Will they have the best interests of Coventry people at heart? One of the biggest implications will on respiratory conditions, such as Asthma – particularly for children, who will be subjected to these adverse conditions.

“Plans for thousands of new Houses on green belt around Coventry will have a devastating impact on both pollution and traffic.

“Worse still, the air pollution is damaging our children. On 53 days last year, maximum levels of particulates in Coventry, were sufficient (30parts per million) to depress school performance by 50 per cent.

“If that was during exams, Coventry children may have failed maths or English, at GCSE because of air pollutants.”

We have approached Coventry council for comment.

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