bham 2air pollution

In July last year, The FT brought news of 9,400 premature London deaths in 2010 due to air pollution, according to a study by King’s College London academics.

More than 3,000 people were admitted to hospital with breathing and heart problems linked to air pollution in 2010.

The economic cost of all these health problems was estimated to range from £1.4bn to £3.7bn.

Lisa Rapaport, in an article for Reuters, reports that the byproducts of fossil fuel combustion have all been found to damage the lungs. She reviews the epidemiological findings of research published in the BMJ’s co-owned journal Thorax, one of the world’s leading respiratory medicine journals, which support the hypothesis that air pollution exposures after lung cancer diagnosis shorten survival rates.

Lead author Sandrah Eckel, a researcher at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, advises mitigating action:

“There are a number of common-sense precautions that anyone can take to reduce their exposures to air pollution, including monitoring daily air pollution alerts and reducing outdoor activities – especially outdoor exercise – during high pollution periods, using air filtration systems while indoors, and using the recirculate setting of your car ventilation system while traveling in heavy traffic.”

London’s mayor seeks structural change

The new mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, records that in the past month, the biggest public consultation City Hall has ever seen was held. Almost 15,000 people gave their views on how toxic air can be ‘tackled’ to protect Londoners’ health. The mayor’s proposals include:

  • a ‘T-charge’ on the most polluting vehicles entering central London,
  • extending the Ultra-Low Emission Zone so more of London is reserved for cleaner vehicles,
  • unveiling two of the planned low-emission bus zones in pollution hotspots and
  • the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street to make it cleaner, safer and more pleasant for shoppers and workers.

Can Birmingham adopt similar measures and also draw on the scientific and engineering talents in its universities which are pioneering clean hydrogen-fuelled forms of transport by road, canal and rail?