Air pollution contributed to estimated 800 plus deaths in Norfolk and Suffolk, report reveals

Pollution in Norwich. Photo by Simon Finlay. Pollution in Norwich. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Dan Grimmer dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk
Saturday, April 19, 2014
10:54 AM

Long term exposure to air pollution was a contributory factor in the deaths of an estimated 816 people in Norfolk and Suffolk over a 12 month period, new figures have revealed.

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The statistic was revealed in a new report published by Public Health England - the first time deaths attributable to particle air pollution in all local authority areas have been estimated.

It estimated that over the course of 2010, the deaths of 450 people in Norfolk aged 25 or over could be attributable, at least in part, to air pollution - a total of 4,479 years of life lost. In Suffolk, the estimate was that air pollution contributed to the deaths of 366 people aged 25 or over.

The figures were calculated by modelling annual average concentrations of man-made particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter, known as PM2.5 and their impacts on health.

The report says much of the air pollution is caused by burning fossil fuels to generate heat and electricity and from motor vehicles.

The estimates are made for long term exposure to particulate air pollution rather than short term exposure to high pollution episodes such as the recent Saharan dust.

However, the report says short term exposure to high levels of air pollution can cause a range of adverse health effects including exacerbation of asthma, effects on lung function, increases in hospital admissions and mortality.

Dr Shamsher Diu, Norfolk public health consultant, said it was important to note that air quality had improved cdramatically in recent decades due to better monitoring and action, such as legislation.

But he said: “This is an important issue. Yes, there have been improvements, but there is more that could be done.

“It’s an area where we need to do a lot more work and we need joined up thinking, internationally, nationally and at a local level.”

Dr Rupert Read, the Green Party’s lead candidate in the east for next month’s European elections, said: “These new statistics, which show that thousands of people are dying because of air pollution, make it clear that urgent action is needed to clean up our air.

“It should be a source of shame for ministers. Yet the government is doing far too little to reduce air pollution.

“With pollution-related deaths in the East running at this level, it is abundantly clear that action is needed.

“We need clean public transport options, plus a huge improvement in the numbers of people cycling and walking. We need what I have been calling for consistently: a green public transport revolution.”

• Do you have a health story? Call health correspondent Adam Gretton on 01603 772419 or email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

26 comments

  • Norfolk John – Air pollution is boring but deadly and the most deadly fine particles are invisible. Knowledge of hazard sources and impact could also be considered mainly boring but hopefully all information adds to our understanding of the need to use due diligence and duty of care in order to protect the future of the air we all breathe. Children are especially at high risk due to their developing respiratory systems , do you really consider that wilfull ignorance should be the basis of justifying decisions to deliberately degrade air quality and damage health?

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    Brian W

    Tuesday, April 22, 2014

  • .... and the prize for the longest and most boring comment goes to Brian W!

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    Norfolk John

    Monday, April 21, 2014

  • In some ways the pea soup fogs of Victorian times must have given the British a genetic benefit. How else can we explain our reluctance to die any earlier than our European cousins despite our WHO particle limit of 2.5 PM being twice as big as theirs.

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    Fly Tipper

    Sunday, April 20, 2014

  • A number of years ago The World Health Organisation reported PM 2.5 to be the most hazardous air pollutant but sadly in England we allow ambient PM pollution to be double WHO recommended limits and far higher than allowed in Scotland and other enlightened Countries. We encourage use of biomass burning but ignore the fact that at domestic level a single wood burning stove can create fine particle pollution per hour equating to a diesel vehicle travelling 600 plus km. It only needs a few to reduce local air quality to that of a busy inner City junction. With a reported 200,000 additional stoves each year and estimated million plus in use the air quality damage becomes obvious. Wood burner impact can be many times higher than anticipated depending on operator diligence, timber condition, burning methods, local conditions etc. The emissions suffer inversion characteristics which exacerbates impact , the soot creation brings need for frequent chimney sweeping and chimneys require special linings to prevent damage, all adding to health concerns. Small biomass powerplants create damage equating to millions of additional local diesel vehicle journeys each day, just check specified emissions against EURO56 vehicle exhaust data. Biomass plant operators confirm emissions mainly impact within 3km of fluestack irrespective of chimney height but can easily travel 200km. The fine particles created are especially dangerous as they are mainly submicron allowing easy access to the bloodstream and the pollution mitigation employed , mainly bag filters sadly only removes a small percentage of the most hazardous size spectrum adding to health impact concerns. The Government produced a report confirming use of biomass for energy would add £billions to annual health and environmental costs , DECCArup produced a report detailing biomass burning would require 90% import, the operators report plant power efficiency can be sub 20%. With plants relying heavily on HGV deliveries and biomass having low energy content the impact increases. Just check emissions burden per unit of power out against far cleaner alternatives. The Easter region suffers additional impact consequences due to transboundary pollution created by burning processes especially incinerators and biomass plants existing and proposed to the South and West. Surely it is time for joined up thinking, due diligence and duty of care to be applied in order to protect valuable air quality.

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    Brian W

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Pollution can be harmful = fact. That it caused or was a contributory factor in 800 deaths = errr - a computer model. Next we will have someone suggesting all petrol and diesel cars should be replaced with electric cars. The reality is that those merely displace where the power is generated and because of power loss through transmission are far less fuel efficient than petrol and diesel cars. This is yet another attempted green scam in an attempt to impose ever more taxes and restrictions on the population.

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    andy

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • "...I can't remember air pollution being cited as a major health threat to populations in the UK during Victorian times...". But then you haven't bothered to look or enquire have you ? Never heard of the famous " pea souper " fogs of Old London ? It was well documented at the time by the medical profession that such events caused an immediate increase in deaths from respiratory disease afterwards. As he Medical Times and Gazette noted in December 1873 " one recent fog “is one of the most disastrous this generation has known,” going on to point out that “to persons with cardiac and respiratory disease it has in numerous instances proved fatal.” . But keep on trolling.....

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    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • "So now we have air pollution as the next threat but all based on a computer model and not actual facts....". So it's not a fact that air pollution is harmful to health ? Just " computer model " speculation ? Just like the "computer model" used by your beloved UEA for the climate change scam eh. Larson ?

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    "V"

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Jane Bradley, I am a {ex} Londoner with a second home in Norfolk, Your comments are typical of yokels who clog up the roads with tractors getting in the way of my Mercedes.

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    John Bridge

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Cheese and onion poisoning is a man made global menace and should be addressed, the government should set up a quango {with large salaries and huge expense accounts naturally} without delay.

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    John Bridge

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Gosh and in London, they are actually paying extortionate property prices to breathe in all that polluted air. It's no wonder half of them live in Norfolk!

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    Jane Bradley

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • ...."but some cities and major towns I have visited you can actually taste the pollution"....This is so true. When I visited Leicester recently (walkers crisp factory), I could definately taste cheese and onion in the atmosphere. Didn't even think of all the harm it was doing to me, cheese and onion being my favourite flavour.

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    Fly Tipper

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Whippers, whilst without the clean air act we would be up to our necks in soot Andy does have a point. The UN just like the IPCC and the EU are self serving quangos and as such cannot be trusted. Having said that it would not surprise me if the 800 figure is fairly accurate, I have never been to Kings Lynn and have not noticed it in Norwich but some cities and major towns I have visited you can actually taste the pollution, must be harmful.

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    John Bridge

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • It affects everybody but those of us in cities where the problem is worse haven't got time to wait for the rich people living along the coast to see their longevity figures go down before urgent action is taken.Other cities have made public transport free and closed roads as a result.The diesel used by our buses needs replacing with a non-pollutant such as hydrogen and the cars need to be electric powered.There is no time to waste and city authorities need to take action now.

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    Peter Watson

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Daisy Roots, I frequently agree with your posts, however your understanding of air quality in KL and how and why it is polluted is sorely lacking. Wild guesses that the greatest effect is on the elderly moving from London highlights your lack of knowledge on the existing health issues. Do some careful research into those claims you have made before accusing me of spurious assertions.

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    Honest John

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • ...."That air pollution is harmful has been known as a scientific fact since Victorian times"..... I can't remember air pollution being cited as a major health threat to populations in the UK during Victorian times, I think they were all too busy dieing from Typhus and Cholera.

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    Fly Tipper

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Really Honest John? Where did you find that particular fact Could it be that West Norfolk has a whole bunch of elderly people who retire to one of the coldest parts of the country and cant cope with the cold damp air in the marshland parts, the cold damp air on the coast or the pollen or the dust from farming and bring their wrecked lungs with them from urban areas like London? The demography of the area says more about health than anything.Just where are the sources of pollution you claim for West Norfolk-there are few roads, little industry and the level of sulphur deposited on the soil by rain carrying industrial contamination has dropped away to the extent that farmers are having to replace it when growing some crops. No one disputes that clean air is something to be aimed for, but making spurious assertions is not on

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    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • "...So now we have air pollution as the next threat but all based on a computer model and not actual facts....". So it's not a fact that air pollution is harmful to health ? Just " computer model " speculation ? This is certainly the place to come for ignorant buffoons talking rubbish on subjects they clearly know nothing about. . That air pollution is harmful has been known as a scientific fact since Victorian times . In the UK , check out the history of The Clean Air Act of 1956.

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    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Coal fired power stations in the UK were responsible for acid rain killing trees in Sweden and Norway. Proof pollutants can be carried many miles especially early this month from the Sahara and people with respiratory problems advised to stay indoors. Runcorn and Widnes areas have many chemical industries and millions of vehicles travelling this route. I expect this will have an impact on Manchester and Leads with the prevailing winds. The accumulation of pollutants from industry and vehicles from the M62 corridor has to be responsible for pollution in Norfolk and Suffolk. Daisy Roots mentions the incinerator fiasco but does not mention the 1100 lorry vehicle movements per week involved to create toxic ash waste that in turn ends up in a secure landfill site in Northampton. Cory Wheelabrator the incinerator company had done a survey and findings were, pollutant from vehicles was a critical pollution problem.

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    Interpol

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • This so called research follows hot on the heels of the politically inspired UN report on climate change. They have lost the argument on Global Warming and their ever more desperate attempts to ramp up the effects of naturally occurring climate change could soon go the same way. So now we have air pollution as the next threat but all based on a computer model and not actual facts. Wait for refreshed demands for even more green taxes and even more incredibly expensive 'renewable energy' all subsidised by tax payers. A cynic is what an idealist calls a realist!!!

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    andy

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • I’d like to see the figures to back up Dr Shamsher Diu’s claim that air quality had improved dramatically in recent decades, it certainly hasn’t in King’s Lynn, West Norfolk has lost the most people in Norfolk to air pollution and you can bet your boots the figures are lower than actual. The high incidences of respiratory disease and asthma has been highlighted throughout the incinerator campaign but still no one wants to look into the cause of the problem – wake up Norfolk County Council, this is your domain, when are you going to do something positive for the West of this county rather than extend down the east into Suffolk?

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    Honest John

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • So why don't the councils make our towncity centres more traffic friendly? Norwich city centre is deliberately designed to hold up cars frequently to 'discourage them from coming into the city.' This is an experiment that has failed miserably, mainly because of the sky high cost of bus fares. To reduce Norwich pollution re-introduce subsidised busestrams THEN make it difficult for other traffic.

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    Max Headroom

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Why some people try to belittle these statistics is hard to understand; is to so they justify driving everywhere leaving a toxic trail behind them without a care in the world. Just why do you thing the EU is taking legal action against the UK for failing to act on traffic pollution? I have got to say that with the attitude of some on here you have got to feel concerned for the children of tomorrow.

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    Old Long Balls

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Looks as if Public Health England is a government body with even less credibility than Natural England. Their assertions about air quality have to be based on reliable data collection. As we saw in the figures bandied about during the incinerator debate, many air monitoring stations are purposely very close to roads and industrial installations and return bad air quality results but those just a few hundred yards away show no problem. Desk top studies based on data collected by third parties and then modelling with a lot of might haves in actual causes of death-all in all a strange sort of study which might actually prove nothing. Question is has the EDP been trawling for reports to justify its stance on the incinerator?

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    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • ...."These new statistics, which show that thousands of people are dying because of air pollution".....For a doctor he isn't very intelligent. Air pollution is a FACTOR in their deaths Dr Read not a cause.

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    Fly Tipper

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • What absolute nonsense! There is pollution in Shanghai, Bejing, LA etc(but even that is improving). Pollution in Norfolk and Suffolk, don' t be so ridiculous,

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    Lord 'Elp-Us

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • If air pollution caused this many deaths in 2010, but the air quality was far better than decades ago, why was there no uproar then when thousands must have been dying because of it. the figures come from "Modelling", using a best guess as to the actual effect of air pollution. If these deaths were partly due to air pollution, then the figures should be accurate from actual cause of death numbers. Pollution from cars is minimal compared to 10 years ago, and unless we want to sit in the dark, we will need fossil fuel power for decades to come. Not sure why the East is singled out as i believe we must have fewer vehicles in the area due to our rural location and the only power starion is nuclear. Urban areas with lots of cars and fossil fuelled power stations on their doorsteps must have people dropping like flies all over the place, but i have not heard or seen this on the news. It is yet more propaganda for the Green Party to peddle to get us all walking, cycling and returning to the middle ages.

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    DaveG

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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