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Pollution causes 2,500 Scots deaths

This news post is about 8 years old

Research points to air pollution as a bigger killer than previously thought

At least 2,500 deaths in Scotland each year are caused by pollution, health experts have revealed.

A report published by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health shows that the new figures are significantly higher than previous official estimates.

Green campaigners are now calling on the Scottish Government to invest a portion of the roads budget into walking and cycling projects in a bid to reduce pollution ahead of its budget statement tomorrow (24 February).

The research shows that 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution each year across the UK, much higher than previous official estimates which indicated that air pollution caused 29,000 early deaths UK-wide.

It is essential that policy makers consider the effects of long-term exposure on our children - Prof Jonathan Grigg

Based on the new research, campaign group Friends of the Earth Scotland (FOES) calculate that this equates to between 2,500-3,500 deaths a year in Scotland.

Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for FOES, said the figures showed that air pollution is a much more serious public health crisis than previously understood.

“Breathing in toxic fumes increases the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or cancer,” she said. “Children, especially those growing up in urban settings, are forced to breathe in tiny harmful chemicals and studies have shown a link between exposure to nitrogen dioxide and children’s lung development. Air pollution can also cause developing foetuses to fail to grow to their full potential.

“Traffic is the main cause of today’s air pollution, so the solutions are simple, we need less traffic on the roads and vehicles need to have cleaner emissions.

"When the Scottish Government decides its budget this Wednesday, this new evidence must make it reinvest a portion of its motorways budget back into walking and cycling projects.”

Co-author of the report, Prof Jonathan Grigg, said there was now clear evidence that air pollution was linked to heart disease and lung problems, including asthma.

"As NHS costs continue to escalate due to poor public health - asthma alone costs the NHS an estimated £1 billion a year - it is essential that policy makers consider the effects of long-term exposure on our children and the public purse," he said.