Local Air Quality – New Data Shows it’s Worse than We Think!
Bryn Jones, Dowding Road, Larkhall
Well lockdown’s over. Pubs and cafes are thronging. Football, rugby and cricket grounds are open again. Kids are chattering back to school. Life is back to normal. But so is the traffic. Aren’t we all pleased with that? Probably not the 5.4 million (yes, that’s ‘million’) UK residents who, like me, suffer with asthma.
Now here’s a funny thing. My asthma got worse in early 2020. The GP put me on medication. Then the lockdown began, the traffic shrank and my asthma improved. There was a similar cycle before and during the second lockdown this year (2021). I can honestly say that during the early summer my breathing was better than it has been in years.
Now the traffic has returned to ‘normal’ with short-cutting motorists speeding past my front door and depositing their tiny exhaust emission particles in our ‘air space’. Guess what’s happened ? I’m back to wheezing and tight chests, with potentially more serious illnesses to follow if this air quality persists.
BANES air quality plan and its Clean Air Zone might improve things but it’s been operating for weeks now and I haven’t noticed a difference. So I took a look at BANES web site data for the London Road from 7th to 14th October. That indicates that harmful nitrogen oxide emissions exceeded both the government and the new World Health Organisation ‘safe’ limit for nitrogen dioxide on most days. https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/data-plot?site_id=BHA4&days=7 That’s bad for me, worse for children – the worst affected by vehicle pollution – and thousands of Bath residents with respiratory problems.
Now there’s more bad news. That BANES Plan aims for a ‘safe’ nitrogen dioxide limit of 40 milligrams (40 µg/m3). After extensive research the impartial World Health Organisation has decided that 40 is much too high to be safe. WHO says the limit should be lowered by 37% to 25 µg/m3. As far as I can tell that means that London Road NOX emissions – which often didn’t even meet the 40 µg limit -were only ‘safe’, under the new guideline, for a few hours a day on four occasions over a week.
The gist is this. If the WHO revised figures are accurate, then BANES measures for Bath are nowhere near sufficient to protect you or me, nor many with worse conditions. The WHO emphasise that vehicle emissions cause a whole host of other serious illnesses: cardiovascular, cancer and ‘preterm birth and other causes of death in children and infants’. Bath traffic is literally choking our lives to death. If you are as concerned as me about this threat, please write to BANES council and ask them how they propose to react to the new WHO guidelines.