air-pollution-hearts_15311New figures ranking Scotland’s dirtiest streets confirm that air pollution remains a public health crisis in Scotland, according to analysis by Friends of the Earth Scotland and Glasgow’s Hope Street is one of the worst offenders.

The campaign group analysed official 2014 air pollution data for two toxic pollutants and revealed that pollution levels persistently broke Scottish and European air quality standards, with devastating health impacts.

Emilia Hanna, Air Pollution Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland said,

“Yet again, Scotland’s streets are shown to have dangerous levels of toxic pollution which are breaking legal limits that were due to be met in 2010. Pollution levels in our urban areas are showing little sign of improvement with some key streets even more polluted than in 2013.”

“Air pollution is responsible for more than 2000 deaths in Scotland each year and costs the NHS here up to £2 billion annually. The time has come for our polluted air to be treated as the public health crisis it really is.”

“Although today’s air pollution is mostly invisible, its impact on our health is crystal clear. Breathing in polluted air increases your chances of having a heart attack, a stroke, or developing cancer. Children are also particularly vulnerable, with exposure to air pollution restricting lung development, leading to long-term health problems. It has even been linked with autism in children. It is unjust that children, who are not in any way responsible, are suffering the most.

Glasgow air pollution 2013“The Scottish Government is starting to show signs of action but it is painfully slow. A new Low Emission Strategy was promised by the end of 2014 but has yet to appear. The Low Emission Strategy is the crucial blueprint which should spell out when people in Scotland will finally be able to breathe clean air. If the Scottish Government gets it right, then its Low Emission Strategy will save thousands of lives every year.”

“We need the Scottish Government to cut traffic levels and clean up vehicle emission standards. We need better cycle and walking paths, cleaner public transport, and Low Emission Zones rolled out in cities across the country.”

“To have any chance of success this strategy must provide money for cash-strapped councils to pay for desperately-needed measures on air pollution. It is very worrying that the Draft Budget shows no increase in funds for action on air pollution and suggests the Scottish Government plans on spending 200 times as much money next year on building new roads as on tackling deadly air pollution.”

Low Emission Zones are where the most polluting vehicles are banned from key areas of cities and have proven to be successful in several major European countries including London.

Glasgow resident, Mic Starbuck (aged 65), suffers from asthma and is especially vulnerable to air pollution. An episode of air pollution five years ago caused Mic to suffer an acute and prolonged attack of breathlessness which landed him in hospital for three days. He still attends as an outpatient.

He said: “Air pollution affects my ability to breathe, so I have to take seven kinds of medication every morning and carry an inhaler and epi-pen with me at all times. If there is an increase in air pollution when I am out, I have to seek shelter, and there are some parts of town which are no go areas for me.

“I do not think I should have to put up with dangerous air pollution every time I step outside my front door. I have the right to breathe clean air but I am excluded from normal activities and parts of Glasgow because of the poor air quality.

“The Scottish Government has a legal duty to reduce air pollution, and these results show that they can no longer hide. The fig leaf has been removed and it’s obvious that the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council need to redouble efforts to improve air quality.

“Glasgow City Council has shown it is unwilling to take this health crisis seriously, because it has continued to kick the prospect of Low Emission Zones for the city into the long grass.”

The results for 2014 – results are shown for two key pollutants, Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

Number of sites failing European NO2 legal limit in 2014: 13

Results presented as follows: Rank, Street name, city, Nitrogen Dioxide Annual Average in 2014 (figures in μg/m3), Nitrogen Dioxide Average in 2013, is 2014 an increase or decrease on 2013 levels?

1, Hope Street, Glasgow, 65, 65, same
2, St John’s Road, Edinburgh, 60, 57, increase
3, Seagate, Dundee, 55, 58, decrease
4, Wellington Road, Aberdeen, 48, 52, decrease
5, Lochee Road, Dundee, 47, 50, decrease
6, Union Street, Aberdeen, 46, 49, decrease
7, Queensferry Road, Edinburgh, 46, 45, increase
8, Atholl Street, Perth, 45, 49, decrease
9, Whitehall Street, Dundee, 43, 41, increase
10, West Bridge Street, Falkirk, 42, 39, increase
11, Market Street, Aberdeen, 41, 43, decrease
12, Main Street, Rutherglen, 41, 37, increase
13, Meadowside, Dundee, 40, 49, decrease

Sites where air pollution from NO2 appears to be worsening are Edinburgh’s St John’s Road (increase of 3 microgrammes per cubic metre), Edinburgh’s Queensferry Road (increase of 1), Dundee’s Whitehall Street (increase of 2), Falkirk’s West Bridge Street (increase of 3), Rutherglen’s Main Street (increase of 4).

Where improvements have been seen, they have been too slow: the Scottish standard and European legal limit for Nitrogen Dioxide is 40 microgrammes per cubic metre (μg/m3 ) so all of these sites fail the standard. Scotland was supposed to meet the European legal limit on NO2 by 1 January 2010, with an extension of up to 2015 at the very latest, and the Scottish standard by 31 December 2005.

Particulate Matter (PM10)

Number of sites failing Scottish Standard for PM10 in 2014: 19

Results presented as follows: Rank, Street name, city/town, PM10 Annual Average in 2014, PM10 Annual Average in 2013, is 2014 an increase or decrease on 2013 levels?

1, Market Street, Aberdeen, 35, 35, same
2, Wellington Road, Aberdeen, 23, 22, increase
3, Main Street (A904), Newton, 22, 19, increase
4, Salamander Street, Edinburgh, 22, 22, same
5, Hope Street, Glasgow, 22, 23, decrease
6, Atholl Street, Perth, 22, 22, same
7, Main Street, Chapelhall, 21, 17, increase
8, King Street, Aberdeen, 20, 19, increase
9, High Street, Crieff, 20, 20, same
10, St Marnock Street, Kilmarnock, 19, no data, n/a
11, Dumbarton Road, Glasgow, 19, 19, same
12, Main Street, Rutherglen, 19, 19, same
13, West Bridge Street, Falkirk, 19, 19, same
14, Queensferry Road, Edinburgh, 19, 19, same
15, Union Street, Aberdeen, 18, 20, decrease
16, Lochee Road, Dundee, 18, 18, same
17, East Hamilton Street (A8), Greenock, 18, 14, increase
18, High Street, Linlithgow, 18, no data, n/a
19, Whirlies Roundabout, East Kilbride, 18, 14, increase

The Scottish standard for PM10 is 18 microgrammes per cubic metre (μg/m3 ) so all of these sites fail the standard. Scotland was supposed to meet the Scottish standard by 31 December 2010.

Sites where air pollution appears to be worsening are Aberdeen’s Wellington Road (increase of 1), Newton in West Lothian (increase of 3), Chapelhall’s Main Street (increase of 4), the A8 in Greenock (increase of 4), and Whirlies Roundabout in East Kilbride (increase of 4).