Keith Taylor's (Green MEP for Kent) press release below touches on something that deeply concerns me - air pollution. We use our air as a dumping ground more than we use landfill sites.
Our cars burn millions of tons of petrol and the exhaust is pumped out of the back into the air. Our waste goes for incineration and while the majority of the fumes are cleaned as best they can, the incinerator still pumps out plenty of carbon dioxide. Power stations pump fumes high into the air, as do planes. Even Bob Flowerdew talked of having a good bonfire this week on GQT.
Fire has always existed and therefore air pollution too. 29,000 directly attributable deaths and 200,000 contribution deaths each year is some issue! To put that in context: 150k population in Maidstone - 72 people dying in the borough each year.
Keith Taylor MEP has joined campaigners and other politicians in launching the European Year of Air for 2013. With key European legislation up for review this year, and an estimated half a million premature deaths in Europe caused by air pollution, Mr Taylor is calling for the UK government to halt its efforts to weaken existing EU air quality standards..
EU air quality safe levels were set in the 90´s and there have been mixed results since then. While air quality has generally improved the levels of some dangerous pollutants has increased. Currently 95% of city residents in the European Union breathe ozone at levels exceeding World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels.
In the UK air pollution causes 29,000 deaths and contributes to over 200,000 premature deaths per year. In Mr Taylor’s constituency, the South East of England, the problem of air pollution particularly affects both city dwellers and the thousands of people who commute into London.
Mr Taylor said:
“With children and the elderly being hit hardest by poor air quality, and the levels of some noxious pollutants on the rise, we badly need to see strong legislation from the European Union in 2013.”
The UK government has been accused by campaigners of attempting to weaken air pollution legislation. The UK department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs proposed “Working in partnership with other Member States, we will … amendments to the Air Quality Directive which reduce the infraction risk faced by most Member States, especially in relation to nitrogen dioxide provisions’.
Responding to this Mr Taylor said:
“It beggars belief that the UK Government is trying to water down European Legislation that will protect the lives of British citizens. I urge them to back strong laws on air pollution and to improve people’s health.”
Keith recently published a public information leaflet, ‘Air Pollution: The Invisible Killer’, to raise awareness of air pollution and its damaging health impacts. The leaflet explains how air pollution is created, how widespread the problem is, how it affects our health and how pollution can be reduced.
1) A guide to Air Pollution and the 'Year of Air' can be found here: http://cleanairinlondon.org/news/quick-guide-to-air-pollution/
2) Keith's Guide 'Air Pollution: The Invisible Killer' can be found here: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/air-pollution/