People in Sheffield 'face an early death' as air pollution reaches dangerous levels

People in Sheffield ‘face early death’ as they are exposed to levels of air pollution close to breaking a safe limit recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), figures reveal.

By Lloyd Bent
Thursday, 13th May 2021, 8:47 am

Health campaigners say "toxic" air quality in the UK is a national emergency and the Government must impose stricter limits on fine particles in the air (PM2.5), which come mainly from the burning of oil, gas and diesel.

The calls have been heightened after a coroner, while ruling that air pollution was a cause of the death of a nine-year-old girl in London, said there was "no safe level" of PM2.5, adding WHO guidelines should be seen "as minimum requirements".

Latest figures from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs show the average concentration of PM2.5 pollution particles in Sheffield was 9.3 micrograms per cubic metre in 2019 – below the UK limit of 25, but close to the WHO guideline limit of 10.

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Fuel emissions contribute to air pollution.

Green party councillor for City ward Douglas Johnson said: “Air pollution is a huge health issue as we know that about 500 people in Sheffield face early deaths every year because of it.

"That is clearly something that should be addressed. There is no safe limit for air pollution but there are legal limits, which are often breached in Sheffield.

“Most air pollution comes from burning things. So making air quality better also helps to reduce carbon emissions, which is a critical action to address the climate crisis.

Green Party councillor Douglas Johnson

“There are many ways to make the air cleaner. People need better choices for public transport, walking and cycling so they can choose to leave the cars at home.

"Far more use of solar power will mean less need to burn gas, wood or even coal in our homes. And we need more education and enforcement on bonfires across the city. Together these will all help us towards healthier and more comfortable lives.”

Separate figures published by the NHS show an estimated 5 per cent of deaths among people aged 30 and over in Sheffield were associated with long-term exposure to PM2.5, up from 4 per cent the year before.