Poor air quality linked to hospital admissions in Sheffield

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Sheffield’s poor air quality is closely associated with hospital admissions for heart disease and breathing problems, a new report has said.

Analysis which has gone before Sheffield Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board said there is a ‘strong correlation’ between hospital admissions for circulatory and heart diseases, and average levels of pollution in different areas of the city.

Poorer parts of Sheffield and communities living by busy roads are among the worst-affected by the problem.

Dr Olufunke Adedeji, a public health consultant, said pollution is a ‘major public health issue for the city’, with an estimated 300 to 500 people dying prematurely each year due to poor air quality.

The report said: “Air quality is worse along busy road corridors and in the more disadvantaged areas. Poor air quality is therefore a significant contributor to health inequalities in the city.”

It added: “Analysis of Sheffield’s hospital admissions for ‘circulatory diseases’ and for coronary heart disease also both show a strong correlation with the annual average concentration of small particulate matter in the relevant neighbourhoods.”

Sheffield is currently missing EU air quality targets and the report said it is ‘not likely’ to be below the legal limit until 2020 at the earliest.

The report said road transport is the largest single contributor to Sheffield’s nitrogen dioxide emissions and without ‘significant investment’, pollution limits will continue to be breached in Sheffield for the foreseeable future.

It added: “The success of the air quality action plan is dependent on a major shift away from the use of diesel fuel in the urban area of Sheffield.”

The report said funding is needing for ultra-low emission vehicles to help tackle the problem.

Sheffield Council has been running an ‘Air Aware’ campaign aimed at city drivers, with electronic signs around the city promoting the idea of driving less and not using diesel cars if possible.

Drivers are also being encouraged to make sure their tyres are properly inflated to help them reduce their fuel consumption.