Brookmans Park Newsletter Community Discussion Forum
General Discussion Boards => Environment => Topic started by: trekbat on April 25, 2012, 04:23:58 pm
There is now a substantial body of evidence that particulate pollution (largely from traffic – whether uncombusted fuel or ground off tyres and brake discs) is a danger to human health:
“Long-term exposure to air pollution may have contributed to all 15,800 deaths due to cardiovascular causes in London in 2009 (i.e. one in three of all deaths) at an average additional loss of life for each of these adults of some three years at typical ages (e.g. 15% below age 65) New scientific research indicates that children exposed to higher levels of traffic-related air pollution at school and home are at increased risk of developing asthma.”
Edinburgh University scientists found minuscule particles produced by burning diesel can increase the chance of blood clots forming in arteries...It was found that the particles, and not the gases, impaired the function of blood vessels...Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "We've known for a long time that air pollution is a major heart health issue..."
"Exposure to traffic pollution is stunting the growth of children's lungs, cutting their breathing power by up to 17%, a study has found. Researchers from the Royal London hospital have linked the damage in apparently healthy children living in inner cities to particulates, tiny particles contained in exhaust fumes..." Sunday Times, 22/04/12 p6.
Hatfield is home to several major transport depots (Parcelforce, DHL, Ocado, CityLink, Yodel), and the Uno bus garage. In addition, Arla Foods has recently announced its intentions to build a food distribution centre in Hatfield (WHT 14/12/11 p.72). Plus, the Tesco depot (on the Welham Green side of Travellers Lane) is only accessible by road from Hatfield. These are in addition to the A1M which runs through the town via the tunnel.
A build up of pollution (which happens particularly in summer months when its warm and there is little or no breeze) over Hatfield will affect other areas in the Borough as particles either diffuse into the surrounding less polluted air or it moves like a plume by air currents. Unfortunately, the air quality monitoring station is located in WGC so there will be no early warning.
Conservative-controlled Hertfordshire County Council's plans for a massive incinerator at New Barnfield will only worsen the situation (through HGV traffic to and from the site, and the incinerator's own emissions). And the air quality in the Borough could potentially be affected by other existing and planned /proposed facilities, like Edmonton (London EcoWaste Park) and Fieldes Lane, Hoddesdon (which are close as the crow flies).
There are already issues with the air quality in Hatfield – according to Veolia’s Health Impact Assessment (p.57) measurements carried out at the de Havilland School between December 2010 and August 2011 showed higher than expected readings – it explains this as being due to weather conditions leading to a cap of still air which trapped the pollutants (p.58).
Incinerator emissions pose an added dimension to the threat:
"Chingford Green Ward has the second highest number of child deaths relative to its population in the whole of London, according to the most recent figures. Infant mortality rates are usually found in areas of high deprivation but Chingford Green Ward is the second richest part of the borough. The ward is close to Britain's largest incinerator in Edmonton and one researcher, Michael Ryan, says he has gathered evidence from across the country that areas situated where toxic emissions start to fall to the ground have a high rate of child deaths."
"Figures from the Office of National Statistics show a jump in infant deaths in Great Lever - where the Raikes Lane waste plant incinerator is based. The Royal Bolton Hospital is also on the edge of the ward boundary. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) does not believe incinerators cause “significant risk”, but is now looking to reassure the public with a special study."
Unless the authorities start taking action apart from the physical cost (and damage to people's lives) there will be an added tax burden - EU fines, rising NHS and other ill-heath benefit costs...at a time when we cannot afford it.
"In addition, the new EU air quality directive will force the UK to reduce nitrogen dioxide pollution on some of the capital's busiest streets by more than a third by the end of 2009, in order to move towards World Health Organisation guidelines. If air quality improvements are not achieved quickly, the UK could be taken to the European court. The court has powers to impose unlimited fines."
“If the UK adopted the US Clean Air Act of 1997 we could easily reduce the annual NHS bill by £24 billion. The US saved $193 billion just from reduced hospital visits and days off work according to the White House Office of Management and Budget report which was featured in the Washington Post, 27 September 2003."
It is worth noting that this is not simply a question of stopping the incinerator - it is a global problem that requires a global solution. Keep an eye out when watching the news it's clear to see that the build up of smog in India and China is getting as bad, if not worse than Los Angeles (I've seen it, several years ago, in the mountains of Switzerland and off the Greek coast when it was clearly too hot for it to be fog or mist).
Here in HK, this puts a lump in our throats most mornings.
The UK has a long way to go to get this bad.
Unfortunately, air pollution is something that we cannot shrug off and say that's their lookout - pollution diffuses through the atmosphere to less dense concentrations, and we're all on the same ball ie. planet earth.
Puts a whole new spin on what goes around comes around. Cough!
The situation in China and HK is further complicated by the number of coal seam fires raging away:
"China is the larges coal producer (and consumer) world wide: It produces about 1.8 billion tons in 2006. As a result coal fires are a severe problem in China. It is estimated that 10-20 million tons are directly burned by coal seam fires and 100-200 million tons of coal are lost for the mining industry. The fire zones are located in a belt covering the entire north of China. More then 100 burning areas are known divided in several burning zones each. Concentrations are in the provinces (autonomous regions) Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Ningxia. Besides the loss of energy resources those fires cause air and water pollution and emit enormous amounts of green house gases (carbon dioxide and methane). This mainly causes the international interest in those fires. China is the only country in the world starting and performing enormous activities for extinction. Several fires are already extinguished. New methods are developed within a Sino-German Research Initiative."
As the article shows this problem is not restricted to China. And to give some idea of the problem that a coal seam fire poses:
"URUMQI, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- An underground fire that has consumed more than 12.43 million tons of coal in northwest China has been extinguished after more than 50 years... The fire, covering 923,500 square meters, was fueled by coal more than 100 meters underground. It released more than 70,000 tons of toxic gas, including sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide each year since it started in the early 1950s..."
Since the last post in this thread awareness of the dangers of air pollution has increased substantially with several studies coming in highlighting damage to the heart and circulatory system, increased risk of developing asthma, strokes, and dementia...
The Sunday Times has started a Clean Air Campaign and the London Evening Standard has a dedicated section. Indeed, it was headline news last week ('Protect My Pupils From Toxic Air' - Thu, 26/01/2017 and it dominated that edition's Letters page - p55). While the Sunday Times 29/01/2017 had an article 'Airtight homes to block toxic fumes', p20.
Air pollution linked to irregular heartbeat and lung blood clots - 5 June 2014
Air pollution linked to asthma in children and teens - 20 November 2015
Air pollution now major contributor to stroke, global study finds - 9 June 2016
Living near heavy traffic increases risk of dementia, say scientists - 5 January 2017
Sunday Times - Clean Air Campaign
Evening Standard - Air Pollution section
However, while London is now certain alive to the dangers, local politicians here seem blase / totally unconcerned.
I was staggered that the Green Party leaflet at the last election made no mention of the issue.
More recently I bumped into the WHC Labour leader handing out leaflets on the NHS in Hatfield town centre over the weekend and he was of the opinion that a crematorium in Hatfield would be a positive thing and that it would go ahead. The prospect of at least 66 additional corteges a month also wasn't a problem. And, of course, the Conservatives are promoting the idea.
Apparently, air pollution is not an issue - or won't be until sufficient people (usually the very young, the very old and others in poor health) fall sick or die.
Which won't be helping the NHS one bit either - but it should do wonders for demand for cemetery services. So it'll be a nice little earner but I do wonder about the costs - fiscal and physical - for residents.
Air pollution was featured in BBC's Trust me I'm a doctor - Series 6, Episode 2 (I think it was a little before the half way point, around 25-27 minutes in).
For those who prefer to read about it (and there are some links to additional articles and sites) there is a written account on the programme site (second link below):
Trust me I'm a doctor - Series 6, Episode 2
Should I worry about air pollution?
Successive governments have done far too little to tackle the problem and then wonder why there's never enough money going into the NHS. Sheeesh!