air-pollution-hearts_15311Streets in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee, Perth and Linthligow on track to break legal air pollution limits for 2014 according to new analysis from Friends of the Earth Scotland. And the situation is not expected to improve as Scotland will miss air pollution legal deadline by over a decade.

Friends of the Earth Scotland mid-year analysis of government data shows that air pollution levels in some of Scotland’s busiest streets are continuing to damage health and break European air quality laws.

The analysis follows the recent revelation before European judges that Scotland will not meet air pollution limits until 2020 in Edinburgh, Central Scotland and North East Scotland and 2025 in Glasgow. European law requires that legal limits for a key toxic chemical, Nitrogen Dioxide be achieved by 2010. The delays will mean that Scotland will miss the deadline by a decade in most Scottish cities and fifteen years in Glasgow.

Friends of the Earth Scotland Air Pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said,

“A number of busy streets are recording high levels of pollution and are on track to break legal limits for 2014. It is disappointing to see continued high levels, especially because Scotland and the UK have been called up by European Courts for its slow progress on cleaning up the air.

AirMonitoring_GLA3_site“The law required Scotland to have clean air by 2010. These delays see the prospect of clean air slipping over the horizon for people living in Scottish towns and cities. It is unbelievable that we will have to wait another six years for clean air in Edinburgh and even worse that we have to wait until 2025 for clean air in Glasgow. These delays mean there is no end in sight for the thousands of Scots who suffer from air pollution.

“Air pollution aggravates asthma, and can cause heart disease, strokes, and lung cancer. We know that over 2000 Scots die from the effects of air pollution each year, so these delays in meeting clean air standards mean even more unnecessary death and suffering.

“Scotland is breaking European laws on air pollution. Under EU rules, Europe could eventually impose hefty fines on the UK and Scotland if it fails to clean up its act. The public should not have to cough up the money to pay for the government’s continued inaction. The public may have to pay out twice for air pollution, once for health care of those affected and then again through EU fines for government’s failure to act.

“The Scottish Government has thus far proved itself unwilling to take the steps necessary to tackle this public health crisis. It has been hoping for improvements in vehicle technology to solve the problem but it should be proactive in cutting traffic levels by halting new unnecessary road developments, investing more in walking and cycling, and improving public transport.

“The health impacts of air pollution are clear, the Government’s strategy is not. For the sake of people’s lives and wellbeing, air pollution needs to be tackled as an urgent priority. We cannot afford to wait any longer.”

In our urban centres, traffic is the dominant cause of air pollution. In the video below air pollution campaigner Alice O’Rouke cycled through Glasgow’s busy streets at rush hour and measured levels of toxic pollution with a monitor strapped to her back. The results are startling and show elevated levels of pollution where Alice was caught in traffic.

Results of 2014 Mid-year round-up:

Top 12 most polluted streets for a key pollutant, Nitrogen Dioxide, so far in 2014. Figures in microgrammes per cubic metre, European legal limit 40 (annual mean)

Glasgow Hope Street, 66
Dundee Seagate, 59
Edinburgh St John’s Road, 57
Glasgow Byres Road, 54
West Lothian Linlithgow High Street, 48
Dundee Lochee Road, 46
Edinburgh Queensferry Road, 46
Aberdeen Union Street, 46
Perth Atholl Street, 45
Dundee Meadowside, 45
Aberdeen Market Street , 44
Dundee Whitehall Street, 42