Increased levels of air pollution in Glasgow calls for immediate change
Low-emission zones are the key solution of tackling air pollution in Glasgow
Glasgow and its surrounding urban areas was named among 16 areas in the UK which breach the legal air pollution levels in the European commission’s final warning in February 2017.
London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds were also included in the final warning over persistent breaches of air pollution limits for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).
Most of the air pollution in Glasgow’s city comes from traffic. The harmful emissions pumped out by vehicles are responsible for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Around 2,500 people in Scotland are estimated to die each year because of toxic air, Friends of the Earth Scotland said.
Nitrogen Dioxide is released into the atmosphere when fuels are burned and causes negative effect on health. There is evidence that high levels of Nitrogen Dioxide can inflame the airways in lungs, Defra report said.
Vincent Mclnally, an environment officer in Glasgow Council, said “The council monitors both short term and longer term exposure of air pollution concentration in the air.
“The annual mean and daily records of PM10 [a measure of the concentration of particles in the air] have been found to be within objective.”
“Only the annual mean of Nitrogen Dioxide (40ug/m3) has been exceeded in the City including City Centre, Parkhead cross and Byres & Dumbarton roads” he said.
“Because of the narrow streets and multi-story building with high traffic, it has become like canyon and the air doesn’t blow the pollutants away” Mclnally added.
Vehicles’ fume is the main source of Nitrogen Dioxides (NO2) in Glasgow and 80% of this emission comes from diesel cars, Lorries and busses.
Mclnally said “The council has offered bus companies a grant of 80% of the total cost £15,000 for fitting exhaust emissions for every bus but bus companies are not interested. “
“Perhaps they want the government to pay the whole cost and every bus requires to be out of service for several days” he added.
The council has introduced two fully electric buses travelling inside the city to encourage bus companies to clean up the city. “Electric buses could travel 85 mile before need charging which is enough for travelling inside the city centre or the most polluted areas” Mclnally said.
First Bus, the largest bus operator in Glasgow has not responded despite repeated requests for a comment.
On other side, diesel cars are fitted with effective particulate filter (DPF) but some people remove these filters to improve fuel economy, although they may fail the MOT.
Abdullah Spingher, owner of a garage in the West of Glasgow, said “It is not just a matter of fuel consumption but most of people use their cars to travel inside the city for short distance which cause blocking inside the DPF.”
“The DPF is expensive and cost around £1000 to be fixed. Some people cut and replace it with straight pipe or they make a hole inside it which allows pollutant fumes into the air.
“In addition to some cars that are fitted with computing system that could cheat the MOT” he added.
“Car manufacturers should make it cheaper and to install locks for these filters because some people remove and sell it as second-hand parts for around £300” Springher said.
Mclnally, the environment officer, said “We need to implement the policy of carrot and stick. Government grant should be associated with imposing restriction access on vehicles into some areas in Scotland based on emissions standards”.
Friends of the Earth Scotland has launched a campaign called Act Now for Clean Air, and have sent 1000 messages to the Scottish government. They have demanded to create low emission zones where the most polluting vehicles are banned or must pay a fine if they enter, giving local authorities more control over bus services to regulate fares, plan routes, and operate networks in the public interest and to increase investment in cycling and walking infrastructure.
The campaign can be reached on their website