Town’s air pollution so high it may affect people’s health

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Levels of air pollution in Eastbourne are so high they could affect people’s health, according to recent Government monitoring.

The statistics, produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), show that the South East is the region with the second highest levels of air pollution in urban areas with a rating of nine - just one below the worst possible score.

In terms of one particular pollutant, known as PM2.5, Eastbourne ranks higher than any other town or city in the South East with a rating of ten. Storrington, Portsmouth and Oxford are next in line with scores of nine, eight and seven respectively.

The concerning data, taken from Eastbourne’s monitoring station near to Willingdon Trees Community Centre, was brought to attention by Keith Taylor, the Green Party’s MEP for South East England and clean air campaigner, and Simon Birkett, founder and director of Clean Air in London.

The DEFRA data also shows that, according to the Daily Air Quality Index, the South East region is at ‘level eight’ or ‘high’.

Mr Birkett said, “Government monitoring stations have reported high air pollution across the south east of England today and very high 10/10 in Eastbourne.

“The Government must stop covering-up air pollution and start issuing smog warnings again to protect school children and other vulnerable people.”

The Government has issued advice to cope with such a high level of air pollution that recommends adults and children with lung or heart problems reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors, and particularly if they experience symptoms.

The advice also states those who suffer from asthma may have to use their inhaler more frequently and older people should also reduce physical exertion.

Mr Taylor, who is set to release a report on air pollution near schools next month, said, “This smog episode poses a serious threat and I urge everyone, especially those with health problems, to follow Government guidelines in order to keep safe. If you have elderly or vulnerable relatives it would be good to make sure they know about the Government advice.

“This episode highlights the fact that we simply aren’t doing enough on air pollution in the UK. Every year, nearly 30,000 people die prematurely because of air pollution – yet the issue isn’t taken nearly as seriously as it should be.

“I’d urge local councils to keep residents up to date on this smog episode and to take the action required to cut levels of pollution.”