Air pollution fears increase with a build up of town centre traffic
High Street in Dumbarton where traffic jams caused by the one-way system lead to air pollution. Picture by Tom Gardiner
By Bill Heaney
If you are going to Glasgow to work or do your shopping or get to work, then avoid Hope Street.
It’s the worst street in Scotland for being polluted by exhaust fumes in breach of legal safety limits introduced in 2010, according to the latest government monitoring.
There is no information to be had on tests done in Dumbarton, but the traffic congestion caused there since the one-way system was introduced must surely be a cause for concern at busy times of the day.
Buses belching fumes sit there holding up traffic, which is also emitting exhaust fumes.
West Dunbartonshire Council are committed to looking again at the current traffic management scheme for Dumbarton Town Centre.
What appears to have made things worse in the town is that traffic wardens appear to have been withdrawn and no longer operate here.
Seven city centre roads recorded toxic levels of gases and particles from traffic in 2018, damaging health and increasing risks of cancer, strokes and heart attacks. Five of them have breached air pollution limits for each of the last seven years.
The worst polluted place was at the kerbside on Hope Street in Glasgow, where the mean annual concentration of nitrogen dioxide in the air was 60 micrograms per cubic metre in 2018.
The European Union safety limit which came into force nine years ago is 40.
For tiny sooty particles known as PM10s, the Scottish Government set an annual limit of 18 micrograms per cubic metre in 2010.
The annual European safety limit for nitrogen dioxide is 40 and the annual Scottish limit for particles is 18. Both were meant to have been met in 2010.
Experts and campaigners have criticised councils and ministers for failing to do enough to cut air pollution, which is blamed for 2,500 premature deaths every year in Scotland.
They are pressing for the urgent introduction of low emission zones to force vehicles to clean up their exhaust emissions.
The Scottish Government accepted there were “a few hotspots of poorer air quality” but said it was working “to address this as soon as possible”.
Local authorities highlighted the multiple efforts they were making to improve air quality in their areas.
But secrecy-obsessed West Dunbartonshire Council refused to tell The Democrat what they were doing about it – if anything.
Friends of the Earth Scotland, which analysed the official air quality data published online, described the breaches as shocking.
“The air pollution health crisis isn’t going away – in many areas it’s getting worse,” said the environmental group’s campaigner, Gavin Thomson.
“With streets in Scotland’s cities still at illegal levels of air pollution, the Scottish Government’s Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy has clearly failed to deliver. The current review of this strategy needs to result in a transformation in transport if we are to make Scotland’s air safe for people.”
Thomson described Glasgow’s plan for a low emission zone as “hugely disappointing” because it only impacted a small number of buses to start with. “It will make no difference in its first year,” he claimed.
Source: Friends of the Earth Scotland and http://www.scottishairquality.scot
High Street in Dumbarton where buses cause hold-ups in the one-way system.