A recent poll indicates that 65% of the British public support a new Clean Air Act to address mounting air pollution. And the just released State of Sheffield report says the city needs to work together to tackle ‘long-standing’ air quality problems. Surrounded by 7 hills, air pollution accumulates and lingers on lower ground in still conditions.
If warnings are issued, people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can make informed decisions on whether to avoid areas like the city centre, where there are more pollution hot spots, or possibly, stay indoors altogether on the very worst days. And all of us can make decisions on vigorous physical activity in which you inhale dangerous PM2.5 particulates more deeply.
So why is Sheffield council not issuing air pollution warnings like London and a rapidly increasing number of cities worldwide? People have a right to know about situations that affect their health and wellbeing. The Met Office now issue 5 day pollution forecasts and our council could issue warnings via local media outlets when there is a need.
But they appear reluctant to do this or to take action that matches the scale of this public health crisis. The council’s Air Quality Action Plan objectives to be achieved by 2015 have not been met and air pollution continues to contribute to an estimated 500 premature deaths in Sheffield every year. That’s why Sheffield Greens are pushing for urgent action to protect our health – Let Sheffield Breathe! Sign the petition at www.change.org/p/sheffield-city-council-sheffield-needs-a-new-air-pollution-action-plan
Broomhill & Sharrow Vale ward Green Party