Medics call for industry action on ultra-fine particle pollution
Air quality in the capital may be improving but Londoners are still breathing in the worst pollution in the UK.Glaswegians aren't far behind and Yorkshire cities like Bradford and Leeds are also getting more than their fair share of toxic ultra-fine particles known as PM10.
Now medics are calling on car manufacturers to stamp out PM10 emissions by installing high-tech filters on diesel vehicles and on Government to impose tougher controls.
Commenting on the latest results from 61 Defra pollution monitoring stations located in cities up and down the country, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) says there has been little improvement in pollution levels over the past year and in many places the situation is getting worse.
PM10 particles are tiny, ten times thinner than a human hair, and so are easily inhaled before acting as an irritant as they become imbedded in the lining of the lungs.
The ultra-fine particles can then cause breathing difficulties and the World Health Organisation believes them to be extremely hazardous, saying there is no safe level of exposure.
The CSP is arguing that industry must take responsibility for the pollution created by its products during their lifetime and says the technology is already there to prevent any new vehicles from churning out the harmful PM10 particles, as demonstrated by German company Mercedes-Benz.
The society's council chairman Grahame Pope said: "Poor air quality can cause wheezing and shortness of breath.
"The health consequences for people with lung diseases like asthma and emphysema can lead ultimately to a premature death.
"All of us, our children, our parents and our friends and work colleagues are breathing in this filthy air every day of our lives.
"Mercedes-Benz has shown that they can filter the PM10 particles out of our air. We want all car manufacturers to follow this lead and install particulate filters on their diesel vehicles.
"The Government should be setting a higher standard for air quality and consider legislation demanding this standard for all diesel cars on British roads."
By Sam Bond