Air Pollution - The Invisible Killer
Thousands of Londoners die prematurely every year from breathing polluted air. The most shocking aspect of this is that many of those deaths will be children. Children are more affected than adults from air pollution because their lungs are not fully developed and this makes them more vulnerable.
So we are taking action! We have produced a leaflet specifically designed for parents and we are going to be distributing them outside schools in our borough. At the moment we are targeting schools which are near the most heavily polluted main roads in Havering.
We had a very successful session outside Upminster Infant and Junior School and parents were interested. The leaflet gives tips as to how we as individuals can reduce air pollution.
Air can be polluted both indoors and outdoors. The six most common pollutants are:
- Carbon monoxide
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Particulate matter
- Sulphur dioxide
- Ground level ozone
Pollution from road traffic particulate diesel fumes is responsible for 70% of poor air quality.
Toxic gases are 60% above EU legal limits in some parts of our borough. Havering’s most polluted roads are:
- A124 Hornchurch Road and Upper Rainham Road
- Ferry lane, Rainham
- Mercury gardens, Romford
- St. Mary’s Lane, Upminster.
Havering Council has drafted an Air Quality Action Plan, on which we've submitted a number of comments.
London is one of the worst cities in Europe for air pollution. The London Air Quality Network website will show you how Havering is performing as compared to other London boroughs.
At the moment there is no national strategy for dealing with air pollution.
Our Children’s Health
Pregnant women should take care to avoid high levels of air pollution because it can affect the unborn child. It may be linked to brain damage in foetuses and young children.
Children are more at risk from air pollution than adults. Air pollution can permanently damage their lung capacity. We've produced a flyer (images above and below) for distribution to parents driving their children to and from local schools.
Studies in the USA have shown that children living near to main roads enter adulthood with a lower lung capacity. This is an important indicator of life expectancy.
Air pollution makes asthma worse.
What You Can Do About Air Pollution
- Drive less and don’t leave your engine idling.
- When you buy a new car check that it has low emissions. Diesel is much more polluting than petrol.
- Support and set up tree planting schemes. Trees, shrubs and plants absorb pollutants.
- Write to your MP and ask why there is no national strategy to deal with air pollution - the invisible killer.
Other Sources of Information
- Air Quality in Havering : A Guide for Professionals.
- Public Health England.
- Healthy Air www.healthyair.org.uk
- Asthma UK www.asthma.org.uk