Air pollution

The Independent on Sunday, 19 April 2015:

Air pollution, causing 30,000 deaths each year in the UK, is not a new problem (“Supreme Court to rule on illegal pollution levels”, 12 April). In 1984 I gave evidence to a House of Lords select committee on the health effects of traffic pollution and presented United States data which showed higher rates of lung cancer in urban areas, even among non-smokers. Their lordships recommended catalytic converters, but the main problem was particulates from diesel engines and this problem has continued unabated.

For four years, the UK government has been resisting legal challenges to reduce pollution. The World Health Organisation recommends 25 micrograms per cubic metre as the maximum 24-hour level for small particulates, but this is regularly breached in UK cities. A recent study in The Lancet showed deleterious effects on the foetus at levels below 25, so the Government seems prepared to hazard the welfare of pregnant women rather than inconvenience car manufacturers. Why has no one made this an election issue?

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Former chair, Campaign for Lead-Free Air

Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire