Windsor and Maidenhead are one of the most polluted areas in the UK
Windsor and Maidenhead are among the most polluted areas in the UK, with residents exposed to levels above the safe limit recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), figures show.
Health activists say ‘toxic’ air quality in the UK is a national emergency and the government must impose stricter limits on fine particles in the air (PM2.5), which come from mainly from the combustion of oil, gas and diesel.
The appeals were stepped up after a coroner, while ruling that air pollution was a cause of the death of a nine-year-old girl in London, said there was “no level safe “of PM2.5, adding that WHO guidelines should be consulted. “as minimum requirements”.
Figures from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show the average concentration of PM2.5 pollution particles in Windsor and Maidenhead was 10.4 micrograms per cubic meter in 2019 – below the limit UK of 25, but above the WHO guideline limit of 10.
This was a decrease from 10.8 micrograms in 2018.
In the Southeast, the level of PM2.5 was 9.7 in 2019 and 10.5 in 2018.
Separate figures released by the NHS show that around 5.6% of deaths among people aged 30 and over in Windsor and Maidenhead were associated with long-term exposure to PM2.5, compared with 5.8% the last year.
The British Heart Foundation, which is campaigning for tighter limits on PM2.5 as part of the government’s environmental bill coming back to parliament this year, says the country faces “a health emergency public ”.
John Maingay, director of policy and influencing charity, said: “Our toxic air is a public health emergency, and now is the time to take strong action to support the health of all as we seek to recover. of the pandemic. ”
He added: “We are pleased that the Environmental Bill, which will set stricter air quality limits, will return soon to complete its adoption by Parliament.
“However, this needs to go further and ensure that the WHO limits are enacted into law and respected by 2030.
“Stricter, health-based air quality guidelines are urgently needed to protect the health of the nation and permanently clean toxic air.”
The dangers of air pollution were highlighted last month when 9-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah became the first person in the UK to list air pollution as a cause of death on his death certificate.
Coroner Phillip Barlow, who discovered she had been exposed to high levels of PM2.5 from traffic, said the government should lower its particulate pollution limits in order to bring them into line with guidelines. WHO.
In his report, Mr Barlow said: “The delay in reducing air pollution levels is the cause of preventable deaths”.
PM2.5 are tiny particles, measuring about 3% of the diameter of human air, that can lodge in the lungs and even pass into the bloodstream, potentially causing damage to blood vessels and organs.
They mainly come from traffic fumes, but also from industrial emissions, wood burners and livestock effluents. A small proportion comes from natural sources in the form of dust or sea salt particles.
Levels of PM2.5 particles in England have fallen since 2011 when national records began, dropping from 12.1 micrograms per cubic meter to 9.6 in 2019.
In Windsor and Maidenhead, the reading fell from 2011 when it was 13.4.
Defra readings for PM2.5 are calculated using measurements of air quality as well as the number and location of people in each local authority to provide average annual exposure levels.
A spokesperson said: “We know there is still a lot to do as we rebuild greener after the coronavirus pandemic.
“Through our historic environmental bill, we have made a commitment to achieve a new target of concentration on PM2.5 – the pollutant most harmful to human health – and in this context, we will examine the WHO guidelines for PM2.5. ”