Scotland breaks EU air quality standards as pollution becomes a ‘public health crisis’

The air pollution in Scotland’s towns and cities is creating a public health crisis, according to environmental campaigners. Scotland’s streets continue to break European air quality standards as the country wrestles with an invisible “public health crisis” costing thousands of lives and billions of pounds.

Scotland breaks EU air quality standards as pollution becomes a 'public health crisis'

This claim by Friends of the Earth Scotland came after they analysed official data for two toxic pollutants. The group said the latest figures showed pollution levels were continuing to break Scottish and European limits.

However, ministers defended their record, saying they were working hard, along with councils, to improve air quality. Friends of the Earth Scotland examined two key pollutants, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter – tiny particles which are pumped into the air by diesel vehicles.

Particulate matter is tiny ‘coarse’ particles released by diesel-fuelled vehicles that, like NO2, causes respiratory problems and exacerbates other health conditions. Experts estimate that Scottish air pollution kills 2,000 people a year — more than alcohol-related to road-accident deaths put together.

The environmental group said air pollution had worsened in several areas, including Whitehall Street in Dundee; it found that air pollution had worsened in several areas over the last year. High levels of NO2 are linked to asthma and other respiratory problems. Continue reading

Oxford Street named one of the most polluted places in the world

Oxford Street is now officially known as the area with the highest known concentration of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the world. A toxic pollutant that can trigger asthma and heart attacks.

shutterstock_53878849Kamira / Shutterstock.com

Our country’s showcase shopping area has been named a world leader for diesel pollution due to the shopping strip being permanently congested with taxis and buses, whose diesel engines release large amounts of this gas.

We now know just how bad it is, however, for years’ retail and catering staff, office workers, council and utility workers, shoppers and tourists on this and other busy and polluted roads have been completely unaware of the dangers and risks associated with this invisible killer.

Successive Governments and Mayors have avoided the hard steps to tackle this blight that not only affects Oxford Street, but large swathes of London. Instead, the Government and civil service has downplayed the seriousness of the problem and systematically mislead both its own population and the European Commission. Continue reading

Contaminant Sources – Air Pollutants

Air pollution can be categorised as being either particulate (solids) or molecular (gas). Particles are induced into the human respiratory system through breathing. Gaseous or molecular pollution also enters the body in breathing air, but it is able to penetrate beyond the lungs, into the bloodstream and around the entire body.

Camfil - ContaminantsParticulate and molecular pollutants are both present at airports. The principal source is the combustion of fossil fuels.  Jet and diesel engines both release fine particulates in their exhaust. For jet engines the particulates result from incomplete combustion of kerosene fuel. Combustion efficiency reduces at lower engine power levels which are used during landing, taxiing and idling. Diesel engines release high levels of particulates at all duties.

The particulates result from the combustion of both fuel and engine oil.

Diesel particulates fall into several categories:

  • Dry particles or soot
  • Semi-volatile aerosols that have carbon nuclei with oily hydrocarbons condensed on the surface.
  • Carbon particles with sulphur acid molecules condensed on the surface. The sulphur arises for impurities in the fuel. Continue reading