Medical professionals support biofuels

Biofuel has received support from an unlikely quarter this week as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) gave its blessing to biodiesel, arguing increased use would reduce harmful emissions from traditional petrol and diesel engines.

“The government must do more to stop air pollution poisoning our lungs,” said Grahame Pope, chair of council at the society.

“And breathlessness, wheezing and chest infections will rise if the government does not meet its targets.”

He was responding to a report commissioned by the society looking at air pollution hotspots around the UK which shows nitrogen dioxide levels way above national and European targets in many areas.

“Nitrogen dioxide is an unpleasant irritant which aggravates the airways and make breathing difficult,” said Mr Pope.

“This is frightening for healthy people but especially serious for those with existing lung diseases like asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.

“Traffic fumes are a major source of pollution so we are urging the Government to look at cleaner fuels, like bio-ethanol, which produces half the carbon emissions of petrol.

“We’re also calling on the general public to cut down on car use and to walk or cycle where possible.

“This would not only benefit their own health but the health of others too.”
Support group Asthma UK backed the CSP’s call for action.

“reducing traffic fumes is good news for all of us, not just the 5.2 million people with asthma in the UK,” said the groups chief executive, Donna Covey.

“By cutting down on car use people can help improve the air quality and reduce the suffering of asthma users who say that pollution worsens their symptoms.”

By the end of 2005 Government wants nitrogen dioxide levels to be kept below 40ug/m3.

At 28 of the sites monitored for the CSP levels were still above this and in some parts of London were at over twice the target.

While most of the hotspots were in the capital, other cities such as Glasgow, Bath, Bristol, Brighton and Manchester were also failing to meet the targets.

By Sam Bond

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