Lack of air pollution action now ‘utterly unforgivable’ says MEP

Lack of air pollution action now ‘utterly unforgivable’ says MEP

A Green member of the European Parliament has called for increased urgency in the fight for clean air after the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled polluted air as carcinogenic. This has been endorsed by Wales Green Party’s lead MEP candidate, Andy Chyba.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the WHO, pointed to data confirming that 223,000 deaths from lung cancer worldwide in 2010 resulted from air pollution. [1]

Air pollution, which is primarily caused by emissions from vehicles, has already been linked to other lung problems as well as heart failure and premature death. In the UK alone 29,000 people every year die because of air pollution. [2]

Despite air pollution’s impact on people’s health the UK Government has been accused of trying to water down European laws which could reduce the levels of the noxious fumes in the air. [3]

Keith Taylor, the Green Party’s MEP for the South East of England and a leading campaigner for clean air, said:

“The evidence from the WHO suggests that the risk from air pollution is similar to that from second hand tobacco smoke. Surely then we should expect controls on air pollution from transport similar in strength to those brought in to protect the public from passive smoking. With this new evidence being published it’s clear that failing to act on the air pollution problem would be utterly unforgivable.

Try as it might the UK Government can no longer pretend that the air pollution problem can be ignored, not when the World Health Organisation classify it as a group 1 carcinogen.

It’s time for the EU to adopt stronger air pollution laws that fall in line with World Health Organization guidelines and it’s time the UK Government works on behalf of the health of its citizens and stops trying to undermine this vital legislative programme.

I’ll continue to campaign for clean air across and fight against any moves to weaken vital air pollution laws.”

In the Bridgend County context, as Chair Bridgend Green Party, Andy Chyba, is dismayed at BCBC’s apparent complacency on the issue. Bridgend is one of very few local authorities with no Air Quality Management Areas, despite acknowledged concerns at at least five locations [4]. Such is their complacency that there appears to have been no proper review since 2008. [5]

Chyba says: “This is yet another example of Bridgend’s Labour administration not taking environmental issues seriously enough. Complacency on such issues costs lives and they need to be held more accountable”.

NOTES:

  1. “Air pollution is a leading cause of cancer”- http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/17/us-cancer-pollution-idUSBRE99G0BB20131017
  2. Government report on deaths in UK linked to air pollution: http://www.hpa.org.uk/ProductsServices/ChemicalsPoisons/Environment/Air/
  3. Blog post by Keith Taylor (with links to government proposals to weaken air pollution laws): http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/keith-taylor/air-pollution-kills_b_2457096.html
  4. Concerns have been raised about air pollution near Ewenny Cross, the western end of Cowbridge Road, at Tondu Road on the western end of the Bridgend Cross Valley Link Road, at Kenfig Hill adjacent the opencast coal site, and at Wern Tarw, Pencoed, adjacent to Rockwool Ltd. http://www1.bridgend.gov.uk/media/99179/Jun___2008.pdf
  5. The Pollution Control Team at BCBC published regular reports between 1999 and 2008, but there has been nothing on air quality since. http://www1.bridgend.gov.uk/services/public-protection/environmental-health/air-quality.aspx (this page was last updated in August 2013 so is presumably accurate).

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