Sinn Féin health spokeswoman, Patricia Logue, has expressed serious concern after new reseach from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) identified Derry as one of 44 cities in the United Kingdom in breach of recommended World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines for air quality.
Councillor Logue called for urgent action after the average amount of particulate matter (PM2.5) - sooty toxins suspended in the Derry area - rose above WHO’s recommened safe limit of 10 micrograms per cubic metre of air last year. In 2016, Derry, gave a mean reading of 11 micrograms, as bad as Middlesborough and Birkenhead, and worse than Newcastle, Sunderland and Reading.
Colr. Logue commented: “This is very worrying indeed. WHO found that the quality of air in Derry, Belfast and Armagh exceeded the recommended limit of safe exposure to particles with Armagh’s air quality level nearly as bad as those recorded in London. On a local level for a number of years we have been raising concerns about air pollution in our city, with concerns particularly for people living and who have businesses along busy main arterial traffic routes.”
Earlier this year the ‘Journal’ reported how an air quality monitor at Marlborough Street had exceeded the recommended limits for Nitrogen Dioxide - a pollutant associated with exhaust fumes - before being closed down nearly three years ago.
Colr. Logue said she was concerned over the potential health impacts in the area.
“I and Colr. Colly Kelly have raised problems with the traffic congestion and air pollution at the junctions of Beechwood Avenue and Marlborough/Laburnum Terrace as far back as 2011.
“This in in turn is having an adverse effect on the air quality at Creggan cross roads with the exhaust emissions. Car exhausts contain a range of toxic substances that can have a serious impact on health,” she said.
In 2016 the RCP estimated that ambient air pollution causes around 40,000 premature deaths, over 6 million sick days and an estimated total social cost of £22.6 billion per year.
Colr. Logue said it was a matter of life and death.
“Long term exposure to air that exceeds the limit is linked to the development of heart disease and other illnesses and over 500 deaths in the North per year are attributed to air pollution. This represents more deaths per year than road traffic collisions and passive smoking combined. Clearly, urgent cross-departmental action is needed to improve the standard of air quality here.”