SOARING pollution levels have turned St John’s Road in Corstorphine into the worst street in Scotland, environmentalists claimed today.
Latest statistics show the concentration of nitrogen dioxide in the air is now at almost double the legal limit.
Friends of the Earth said the figures were “appalling” and that they reinforced the case for refusing plans for a new supermarket in the street.
Average nitrogen dioxide levels for the first half of this year shot up from an average 59 microgrammes per cubic metre to 72, compared with the legal limit of just 40.
And measured on an hour-to-hour basis, NO2 levels have exceeded 200 microgrammes on 35 occasions this year while the “safety standard” allows them to go over the limit only 16 times a year.
Air pollution has been linked to asthma attacks, strokes, heart attacks, and cancers. It can also lead to children’s lungs not growing to their full potential.
Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said the results were shocking.
She said: “They show that levels of air pollution, which were already at illegal levels, are reaching appalling new heights. St John’s Road is now Scotland’s most polluted road. Traffic congestion is the main cause.
“We would not put up with drinking water that came out of the tap which was at risk of giving us cancer, so why are we forced to put up with this?”
The city council declared St John’s Road a Pollution Zone in 2006, meaning that it had to come up with plans to reduce air pollution there.
Ms Hanna said: “We were supposed to have clean air years ago, so it’s appalling it’s getting worse rather than better.”
She said the proposed supermarket would see 3000 new vehicle visits to the area each day. “If approved, this will worsen traffic congestion, creating a public health risk.”
And she urged the council to declare a “low emission zone” with buses and lorries required to meet strict standards to be allowed in.
Mother-of-two Becky Lloyd, of Corstorphine Residents Action and Information Group, said she hoped the supermarket plan would be rejected as “entirely inappropriate”.
She said: “This is a massive supermarket and multi-storey car park which is out of scale with its surroundings. Corstorphine is saturated with supermarkets and there is no demand or need for another.”
Transport and environment leader Lesley Hinds said the council recognised improving air quality as a challenge and worked with partners to reduce emissions. She said: “We monitor air quality continuously across the city and the Air Quality Management Area enables us to direct actions more effectively at those locations. We are aware there are improvements which can be made to limit emissions across Edinburgh including at St John’s Road and Clermiston Road junction.