August 21 2014 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Senior reporter
Friday, April 11, 2014
Air pollution causes a staggering one in 14 deaths in Redbridge and is knocking years off residents’ life expectancy.
Recent findings have exposed dangerously high levels of toxic pollutants in the borough, especially around the A406 in South Woodford, which is one of the worst roads in the entire country.
But research by Public Health England (PHE) has revealed its impact locally for the first time.
A report by the authority estimated that long-term exposure to particulates – fine particles of dust and fuel that get into the lungs – caused 7 per cent of deaths in Redbridge.
Its effects have cut the lives of residents short by more than 1,300 years combined, it said.
Exposure can lead to heart and respiratory conditions including heart attacks and bronchitis.
Short-term effects in extreme conditions, like in last week’s “smog” caused by Saharan dust, include asthma attacks, deaths and increased hospital admissions.
Although air quality has improved considerably in the UK in recent decades due to new laws and cleaner technology, PHE is calling for urgent action.
Dr Paul Cosford, director of health protection, said: “Local authorities could consider other measures to improve air quality, such as implementing low emission strategies as well as the appropriate design of green spaces.”
Pollution is causing the most deaths in central London, and the least in more remote areas like the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, the report said.
Redbridge Council was given £100,000 by the Mayor of London last year to improve air quality.
Transport for London is responsible for the A406 but the council controls other congested roads, including the High Road and Eastern Avenue, which also have pollution problems.
Projects including “green walls” to absorb toxic gases, screens and tree planting aim to combat the problem.
The money, to be spent over the next three years, will also go towards education campaigns showing residents what they can do to reduce emissions as well as exposure to harmful pollutants.
The European Commission has launched landmark legal proceedings against the UK for failing to combat “excessive” air pollution.