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Lets Tackle Pollution

By Kevin Alderson, Dec 6 2014 02:51PM

Lets Tackle this Pollution Paul Baker’sletter printed in Journal and News Guardian on 27th nov.

According to a recent report, ‘Public Health in England’ April 2014, it was estimated that approximately 500 people across Tyne & Wear die each year from illnesses where the particulates from diesel fumes was a causal factor in their contracting the particular disease. The main illnesses linked to air pollution are: heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and asthma. Other ailments identified to have a link with diesel pollution are: men’s sperm count is lowered and where pregnant mother’s are exposed to high levels of these pollutants, smaller babies can result.

Areas of high density of pollution have been identified in Newcastle, such as Swan Roundabout, Salters Rd, Gosforth , Shields Road ( Byker) and the Western By-Pass. According to Professor Margaret Bell from the ‘Transport Operations Research Group’ at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne “unless the volume of cars is reduced and the congestion removed, pollution will not fall significantly”.

On a recent BBC television programme ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’ another key area was identified to be outside every school gate where parents’ using diesel fuelled vehicles either to drop their children off or collect them were creating high levels of air pollution for their own children and others. The programme makers also advised that the interiors of cars caught in slow moving traffic congestion and where drivers were breathing the fumes of the vehicle in front were also a serious risk. Our homes are not safe either, if they are situated next to or near a busy main road.

Why are all of us (including the drivers of diesel fuelled vehicles and their passengers) being subjected to such dangerous and unnecessary risks?

What is required here is a complete change of behaviour in how we travel around Tyne & Wear. We need investment in a public transport system which is integrated and meets people’s journey requirements in a way that is as near to the comfort and convenience of a privately owned car. We need regulation of diesel fuelled vehicles and where they are allowed to operate. This will take political will and leadership, something that is lacking at present. As I write I can tell your readers that the money currently awarded to ‘One North’ will mainly be targeted at roads and will result in more traffic (50% of which are diesel) and therefore more pollution.

This is a nationwide problem for across England, it is estimated that one in twenty deaths are from air pollution and that 50,000 people are dying as a result of diesel particulates and other gasses emitted from diesel fuelled lorries and cars. But we can start to do something here in Tyne & Wear, particularly now our councillors have voted for the introduction of a quality contract scheme and bus regulation. We can start by asking school governors to do something about the vehicles stopping at their gates and we can start by asking our politicians up for election shortly on what their plans are to safeguard our children and families health?


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