Deadly air pollution causes one in 29 deaths in Edinburgh

More people die from air pollution in Edinburgh than in any other city in Scotland, a new analysis of data has shown.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 7:04 am

Analysis from the urban policy researchers and charity Centre for Cities identified the Capital as having the highest proportion of deaths attributable to pollution in the country, ahead of Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen.

More than one in 29 deaths are caused by air pollution in Edinburgh, the analysis shows, with 157 deaths being linked to the pollutant PM2.5 which can be both man-made and natural, including dust, ash and sea-spray.

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Edinburgh has the highest proportion of deaths attributable to pollution in the country, ahead of Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. Picture: JPIMEDIA

While the overall number of deaths are lower than Glasgow which saw 354 deaths, the proportion is higher with Edinburgh seeing 3.7 per cent of deaths attributable to air pollution while Glasgow sits on 3.4 per cent.

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities said living in places with high pollution levels such as Edinburgh is killing thousands of people every year.

He said: “More than half of people in the UK live in cities and large towns and while they offer people good employment and lifestyle opportunities Cities Outlook 2020 shows that they also having a damaging effect on their health, with air pollution killing thousands of people living in cities every year.

“Politicians often talk tough on addressing air pollution but we need to see more action.

“People in Scotland should be at the centre of the fight against its toxic air and councils should take the steps needed, including charging people to drive in city centres and banning wood burning stoves.

“To help, the government needs to provide the Scotland councils with extra money and introduce stricter guidelines.

“Failure to act now will lead to more deaths in Scotland.”

Warnings over the level of dangerous pollutants – particularly particulate matter such as PM2.5 which is small enough to enter the bloodstream – followed the announcement with the

British Heart Foundation stating air pollution increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

James Jopling, head of BHF Scotland, said improving air quality was “imperative” to allow people to live for longer.

He said: “Air pollution is a serious public health issue which affects us all, and evidence of the negative impact toxic air has on our health is increasing all the time.

“BHF funded research has found that air pollution damages our blood vessels, increasing our risk of blood clots, and in turn heart attacks and stroke.

“Whilst the Scottish Government has committed to stricter air quality guidelines, it is imperative that all of us continue to work together to improve the quality of the air we breathe, allowing people to live healthier lives for longer.”

Transport and Environment vice convener councillor Karen Doran said the status quo on air pollution is “no longer an option” and the introduction of a Low Emissions Zone will lead to the reduction in air pollution.

She said: “We are keenly aware of the negative, sometimes life-limiting, impact poor air quality can have on people, and we whole-heartedly support Centre for Cities’ call for action although care needs to be taken in the interpretation of such data.

“Edinburgh has a robust air quality monitoring network and we report annually on quality issues related to particulate matter (PM) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) across the city.

“Nevertheless, as we’ve said before, the status quo is no longer an option, and in terms of transport emissions, we’re on course to deliver some of the most significant changes the city has seen for decades to transform and decarbonise the way people move around the city.

“Namely, our plans for a Low Emissions Zone aim to vastly improve air quality in some of the most densely-populated areas of the Capital, while our City Mobility Plan focuses on providing accessible, sustainable alternatives to polluting car journeys.

“We’re also working closely with the Scottish Government on the revision to the Cleaner Air for Scotland Strategy, which will address issues relating to wood burning stoves, which could have a greater impact on Edinburgh’s densely-populated urban areas.”