Air pollution behind ‘seven in every 100 deaths in Newham’
PUBLISHED: 09:56 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:57 26 March 2019
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Air pollution causes seven in every 100 deaths of people aged 30 and over in the borough, one of the highest rates in England.
The latest figures from Public Health England (PHE) show that seven in every 100 deaths of people aged 30 or over in Newham in 2017 were linked to long-term exposure to air pollution.
But the PHE figures show the proportion of deaths caused by air pollution in Newham has decreased since 2010, when 7.6 in every 100 deaths were connected to a high presence of the airborne particles.
Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, said: “There can be no doubt that tackling the dangers of air pollution is an absolutely urgent issue.
“We are committed to doing everything in our power to address this.”
She added the council would speak to residents, campaigners, neighbouring councils, the mayor or London and experts about the best way forward.
The government agency PHE proposed a ban on cars idling outside schools or hospitals while councils called for more funding to tackle pollution and improve public transport.
The PHE data only measures PM2.5 — small particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, about 3 percent of the width of a human hair.
Long-term exposure to these particles can trigger chronic diseases such as asthma, heart disease or bronchitis, and cause other respiratory problems.
Road traffic and some industrial activities are major sources of PM2.5 emissions.
Mayor Fiaz said an air quality plan would be presented at the next full council meeting on April 15.
Martin Tett, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said air pollution is a public health emergency.
He said: “We need to be able to live in safe communities, which includes making sure the air we breathe is as free from pollution as possible.
“If the government’s air quality plans and any new local powers are to be successful, they need to be underpinned by local flexibility and sufficient funding.
He called for more local powers around traffic offences for councils; government support in planning and transport matters, and robust national action to help the country move to low-emission vehicles and power generation.
Professor Paul Cosford, PHE’s medical director and director of health protection, said: “We should stop idling outside schools and we should make sure that children can walk or cycle to school.”