Air pollution is contributing to the deaths of an estimated 2,000 people in Scotland a year, the SNP government has warned as it urged people to cut car use and learn to love the bus. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5s) from diesel, brake and tyre wear and road materials, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), is taking a heavy toll on the nation’s health, according to research. As well as being a leading cause of death pollutants are associated with dementia, diabetes and poor pregnancy outcomes, including low birth weight and premature babies. The government findings, with Scotland due to host the Cop26 climate change conference in November, have prompted Scottish ministers to outline a series of steps to improve air quality. Building on moves to establish restrictive low-emission zones in four cities, they want to cut the distance travelled by cars by 20 per cent by 2030, including through greater use of buses and more home working. In a new strategy paper the Scottish government says bus services are “arguably the single most important mode for reducing transport-related air pollution” due to their role in reducing congestion, and their reliability — with a single bus capable of taking up to 75 cars off the roads. However, bus use has dropped sharply and has fallen even further during the pandemic. To reverse this, as well as offering concessionary travel including free trips for under-22s, ministers will support more bus lanes on trunk roads, including motorways, to help commuters avoid traffic jams. However, as The Sunday Times recently revealed, there is evidence that older buses, retrofitted with technology intended to reduce their emissions, continue to belch out high levels of pollutants. Other changes on the cards including more 20mph limits around Scotland and the development of more “20-minute” neighbourhoods, where people have easy access to amenities without the need to use a car.
Times 18th July 2021 read more »
SNP ministers have been warned by a government document that poor air pollution levels “could potentially amplify” the heath impacts of Covid-19 if the infection is “still in circulation at significant levels”. The alarm, raised in a Scottish Government report, points to a number of studies that have “identified an association between air pollution and both exacerbated symptoms and mortality levels attributed to Covid-19″.
Herald 17th July 2021 read more »