Figures reveal 306 deaths a year in the city are linked to air pollution.

THE council is to carry out a new study of Glasgow's pollution hot spots after shock figures revealed 306 deaths a year in the city are linked to air pollution.

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Friends of the Earth campaigners protest against air pollution in Hope Street - the city's most-polluted area
Friends of the Earth campaigners protest against air pollution in Hope Street - the city's most-polluted area

As reported in later editions of last night's Evening Times, the first public health report of its kind revealed that nearly ten times more people die from exposure to air pollution than do from obesity.

Air pollution is linked to 2094 deaths every year in Scotland and Glasgow recorded the highest death toll. There were 360 deaths across Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen combined.

However, the council insisted that progress has been made and said Glasgow was now recording substantially lower pollution levels than other UK cities.

Key pollutants, called fine particles or 'PM2.5s', can travel deep into the lungs, cross into the bloodstream and cause heart and lung diseases, cancers and aggravate asthma.

The elderly and people with existing lung or heart conditions are at particular risk.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie has demanded "urgent action" from the Scottish Government, which is responsible for PM2.5 action plans.

He said: "If we're serious about protecting public health in Glasgow we need to reduce traffic levels, and increase the budget for walking and cycling.

"The current response to this problem is almost identical to what ministers said a decade ago."

Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council is to carry out a detailed assessment of PM10 levels, of which PM2.5 is a constituent, later this year, which could lead to a review of the city's air quality plan.

Hope Street has long held the dubious title of Scotland's most polluted street, with Byres Road also scoring badly in air tests.

The figures show that Lanarkshire had 276 deaths linked to toxic air, with 37 in East Dunbartonshire and 33 in East Renfrewshire. Orkney and Shetland had the lowest number of deaths with six recorded each in the report by Public Health England. London recorded 3389 deaths.

Mic Starbuck, 64, from Glasgow, who suffers from asthma, says he avoids travelling into the city centre during rush hour because of the risks.

He said: "My life is at risk from air pollution. Breathing in even small amounts of polluted air can trigger an attack, so I am forced to carry and use an inhaler wherever I go, and a nebuliser on longer journeys away from home."

"I have to avoid travelling into the centre of Glasgow during rush hour."

Emilia Hanna, an air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "For the first time ever, we have figures on how air pollution is taking its toll on people in each local council area in Scotland.

"These figures confirm that air pollution is Scotland's biggest environmental health threat."

A council spokesman said: "As Scotland's largest city it would be expected we would be in the top half of the table.

"It shows the city's progress that Glasgow doesn't register the country's highest levels of PM2.5. Indeed, we have substantially less than many UK cities.

"The council is responsible for PM10, of which PM2.5 is a constituent fraction. The whole of the city is an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in respect of PM10 and it is likely that improvements in this pollutant as a result of actions taken will have a corresponding improvement on PM2.5 levels.

"PM10 levels have shown a consistent improvement over the last few years and Glasgow will be conducting a Detailed Assessment of PM10 across the city this year with a view to reviewing the AQMA.

"Local authorities are currently not responsible for PM2.5 monitoring or action plans. The Scottish Government is working on reviewing its guidance regarding PM2.5 and this will then fall more directly within local authority's air quality responsibilities."

caroline.wilson@eveningtimes.co.uk

Environment

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