Lethal fumes linked to cancer, asthma, strokes, foetal development and the onset of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s are continuing to pollute Scotland’s busiest street seven years after a legal deadline to tackle the problem, an environmental campaign group has said.
A list of streets suffering the worst pollution, published by Friends of the Earth Scotland,(FoES) reveals 14 streets in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, Falkirk, Crieff and Cambuslang where cars and buses are emitting toxic gases, putting lives at risk.
Environmental campaigners say air pollution is responsible for around 2,500 deaths in Scotland each year.
FoES reveals there are now a total of 38 pollution zones, established by Scottish councils, where air quality safety standards are regularly broken.
The most polluted street in Scotland is Hope Street in Glasgow where last year the average levels of the toxic gas nitrogen dioxide were 65 micrograms per cubic metre, more than 60 per cent over the legal limit of 40.
Second on the list for breaching the nitrogen dioxide limit was St John’s Road in Edinburgh, followed by Wellington Road, Aberdeen.
Another, separate measure of small PM10 particles showed that Perth’s Atholl Street topped the league, followed by Edinburgh’s Queensferry Road.
Emilia Hanna, FoES air pollution campaigner, said that pollution from vehicles had the biggest impact on the less well off.
“Our addiction to cars is killing us. But it’s those who tend not to drive who are worst impacted by pollution: children, the elderly, and those living in poverty.”
“Air pollution from traffic is a public health crisis, claiming thousands of lives each year and particularly harmful for small children, pregnant women and people living in poverty.
“For people living in an official pollution zone or near traffic-choked streets, breathing in toxic air is an inescapable fact of life. It should not be this way, we have the right to breathe clean air just as we have the right to drink clean water.
“Edinburgh has is making progress on walking and cycling levels and has Scotland’s cleanest bus fleet, but it still has unacceptable levels of air pollution so much more needs to be done. A Low Emission Zone is required for the city in order to restrict the most polluting vehicles from entering.”
Scotland currently has four air pollution zones - Renfrew, Johnstone, Linlithgow and Newton in West Lothian, with a fifth in Salamander Street due to come into operation later this month.
Alan Andrews, a lawyer with ClientEarth, an environmental group, said: “The Scottish Government has a duty to ensure that people in Scotland can breathe clean air. If the Scottish Government fails to take action take action it will be failing in its legal duty to protect the people of Scotland and will leave itself open to legal challenges in the Scottish courts.”
The most polluted streets in Scotland for Nitrogen Dioxide (Figures in microgrammes per cubic metre)
Hope Street, Glasgow - 65
St John’s Road, Edinburgh - 49
Wellington Road, Aberdeen - 46
Seagate, Dundee - 46
Main Street, Cambuslang - 45
Union Street Roadside, Aberdeen - 43
Queensferry Road, Edinburgh - 42
Dumbarton Road, Glasgow - 42
Atholl Street, Perth - 40