Toxic fumes from cars and vans in Sheffield 'cost public health £38.6m a year'

The cost to public health of diesel cars is seven times as much per vehicle as for petrol ones, say researchers
The cost to public health of diesel cars is seven times as much per vehicle as for petrol ones, say researchers
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Toxic fumes from cars and vans in Sheffield are damaging public health to the tune of £38.6 million a year, alarming new research suggests.

That's the cost to the NHS and wider society of the harmful nitrogen oxides and particulate matter pumped out across the city, with diesel vehicles the main culprits, say experts at Oxford and Bath universities.

Sheffield comes ninth in a league table of shame drawn up ahead of Clean Air Day later this month, with Doncaster, where the estimated annual cost is £30.7m, in 14th place.

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Nationally, the yearly bill was calculated to be £6bn, with London topping the list at £650.4m, ahead of Birmingham (£149.7m) and Leeds (£76.6m).

Researchers concluded the health damage caused by a diesel car over its lifetime cost £16,424, compared with £2,327 for petrol cars and as little as £827 for electric ones.

Global Action Plan published the figures ahead of this year's Clean Air Day, on June 21, which highlights steps people can take to improve the air we all breathe.

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Chris Large​, a senior partner at the charity, said: "This report clearly illustrates the true cost of air pollution from each petrol and diesel car and van, particularly in inner cities.

"Swapping one in four car journeys in urban areas for walking or cycling could save over £1.1bn in health damage costs per year. ​Switching ​a million cars from diesel to electric would save more than £360m per year in health costs from local air pollution."

Researchers calculated that if every new car produced in 2019 were electric it would save more than £325m in health costs in the first year.

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Dr Christian Brand, associate professor at the University of Oxford and UK Energy Research Centre, said cars and vans were responsible for 10,000 early deaths in the UK each year, with diesel vehicles being the 'main problem'.

"These results raise important questions as to how best to develop effective and fair air quality and transport strategies in urban areas," he added.

The Star has contacted Sheffield Council for a comment.