Air pollution linked to 130 deaths in Norwich in just one year
- Credit: PA
Air pollution contributed to the deaths of more than 100 adults in Norwich in the space of just a year, new research has revealed.
The deadly toxin PM2.5 was linked to 130 deaths of people aged 25 and over in Norwich during 2017, in the study by research and policy institute Centre for Cities.
But the proportion of such deaths in Norwich was the lowest in East Anglia (5.1pc of all deaths compared to 6.2pc in Luton and 5.7pc in Ipswich).
The biggest impact of particulate air pollution on public health is understood to be from long-term exposure to PM2.5, which is produced by traffic, but also by wood-burning stoves and coal fires.
Inhalation of the particles has been linked to heart disease, cancer, lung problems, asthma and diabetes.
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Norwich city centre has been declared as an air quality management area. While some areas have seen a decrease in air pollution, there have been increases, such as in Chapelfield North and parts of Castle Meadow.
Kevin Maguire, cabinet member for safe and sustainable city environment at Norwich City Council, said: "While we can at least say that we have the lowest proportion of air-quality related deaths in the east, the fact is that one death linked to air pollution is one too many.
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"We would welcome any additional funding from central government to help us tackle this very serious issue, and keep us on the path of making sure Norwich is a liveable city for future generations.
"However, it's important to make the point that air pollution isn't restricted to a boundary which means that our city centre is prone to pollutants from rural locations including the agricultural industry and neighbouring counties.
Martin Schmierer, leader of City Hall's opposition Green group, said he wanted to see the council do more to discourage car dependent development, to get more involved in car free day and to use its powers to issue fines to lorry and bus drivers who idle their engines.
Norfolk County Council will be taken over responsibility for the highways in Norwich from the city in April.
Martin Wilby, County Hall's cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: "We're determined to make sure Norwich is a healthy place to live, and to do that we have to tackle congestion, carbon emissions and poor air quality.
"The city centre has already been declared an air quality management area, a low emission zone has been put in place, and we've seen a 40pc uplift in cycling thanks to our work so far.
"But we're not stopping there - we're developing new proposals to introduce greener local transport, and we also recently adopted an environmental policy.
"But everyone has a part to play: improving air quality also means we all need to conserve energy at home, reduce the use of wood-burning and other solid fuel stoves and make fewer car journeys."