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#Science

As many as 3,500 Scots dying early because of air pollution

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Air pollution is responsible for early deaths of a whopping 52,500 people across the UK and in Scotland the estimated number of deaths is nearly twice than previously thought.

Friends of the Earth Scotland estimate that this could mean more than 3,500 total early deaths from air pollution in Scotland every year. Previously, only the official death toll from fine particles (PM2.5) was known (29,000 UK-wide, 2000 in Scotland).

This fresh figure, which Defra have based on initial discussions with the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP), takes into account deaths from exposure to Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), which are understood to be 23,500 each year.

The figure was tucked away in a Defra consultation document for new Air Quality Plans, which the UK Government and Scotland have been required to produce after being chastised by the Supreme Court in April for ongoing dangerous levels of air pollution and breaking a 2010 deadline for safe air.

Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said that the latest health evidence is truly shocking, hugely alarming and demonstrates that air pollution is a major public health disaster.

Calling the Scottish consultation on new Air Quality Plans as incomplete, vague, and lackluster, she called upon the government to deliver on the promise.

“The law requires that the Low Emission Strategy and related regional Air Quality Plans have a clear set of actions to reduce air pollution, specific timetables for action, and estimates of how much each measure will improve air quality. When the Scottish Government launches its Low Emission Strategy in November, the Strategy needs to fully comply with the letter and the spirit of the law. The public deserve more than vague promises and assurances that our air will be clean. We need to know when and how.

“Friends of the Earth Scotland is calling for the Scottish Government to implement fully funded Low Emission Zones in the major cities with air pollution problems by 2018, which would see the most polluting vehicles kept out of city centres. Without funding for local councils to implement these Zones, the Low Emission Strategy will be undeliverable.”