Air Quality in Levenshulme
Thursday 15th June 2017 saw Greater Manchester celebrate National Clean Air Day with events around the city, including personal assessments to measure lung health. The awareness day seemed like a great step towards educating those who live, work and shop in Greater Manchester on the sources and effects of air pollution in a big city. Pollutants in urban areas include carbon dioxide, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter and are caused mainly through burning fossil fuels for activities such as driving cars and generating electricity.
Manchester Friends of the Earth teamed up with a group of parents in Levenshulme who worried about the quality of the air that their children were breathing daily, and it's effect on their health. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels were measured at 6 locations around the area, and every single reading showed NO2 concentrations above the legal limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre. NO2 causes inflammation of the lungs, and exposure to high levels of air pollution increase the risk of several diseases including lung cancer, bladder cancer and various respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. It’s estimated that over 2000 people in Manchester die prematurely each year due to the effects of air pollution.
So, it seems that insufficient action is being taken around the city to tackle a problem that ought to be considered a priority for both health and environment. Greater Manchester Clean Air Day increased awareness of the issue and encouraged people to take pollution into consideration; engagement is a vital step in the effort to decrease pollution, particularly to incite behavioural change and discourage the use of cars. However, it’s essential that key players in the city’s governance continue to improve the safety of cycle lanes, create pleasant walking routes and increase accessibility of public transport, not only into the centre but all over the city if we are to see a significant decrease in pollutant-emitting private transport and an overall decrease in toxic atmospheric components to below the legal level.
As part of the Hulme Youth Climate Initiative, Manchester Climate Change Agency will be working with young leaders to install equipment to measure the NO2 levels around Hulme in the wake of our small air quality consultation. 38% of respondents currently don’t do anything to reduce air pollution in Hulme; might this change if we find that air pollution levels are a health hazard? The survey also showed that 78% of respondents believe that more should be done to tackle air quality in Hulme, so it will be interesting to see whether this sentiment is reflected in the concentration of pollutants in the atmosphere.
For more information on the research by Friends of the Earth please click here.