Eastbourne has some of the highest levels of air pollution in Britain, according to a newly-published report.
The town is one of the worst offenders for breaching World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines for toxic air, a study by the Royal College of Physicians has found.
It reports that Eastbourne has 15 micrograms of toxic particles per cubic metre of air – the WHO limit is 10.
People in the town regularly breathe in a dangerously high 50 per cent more of the lethal particles than is healthy – equivalent to London levels.
Clean Air Eastbourne is a local project set up to highlight the issue of pollution and monitor illegal levels.
Andrew Durling, of Eastbourne Friends of the Earth (FoE), said, “Eastbourne FoE is providing whatever support it can to Clean Air Eastbourne’s vitally important air quality monitoring project because air pollution is clearly a big issue for Eastbourne as it is for much of the UK.
“Eastbourne is the fastest growing town in East Sussex, so it has seen a big increase in road traffic over the last few years, and as most of that traffic is diesel vehicles, which are highly polluting, it is not surprising that air pollution, especially from particulates, is significantly high.
“Plus Eastbourne is next to one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, and ships burn the dirtiest kind of diesel fuel in huge quantities, emitting massive amounts of sulphur dioxide, which can blow into the town.”
The research, published yesterday (Monday) by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and Lancet Countdown highlights what it says is the government’s need to take action on a substantial threat to public health.
The RCP’s lead on sustainability, Dr Toby Hillman, said, “We know that high exposures in early life have a major effect on lung and cognitive development throughout an individual’s life – that is why it is the government’s duty to improve the air we breathe and to ensure that people across the UK are not exposed to such a preventable cause of death and illness.
“Addressing climate change and poor air quality isn’t a burden or cost, but fundamentally an opportunity we should grasp with both hands.”
For more information about Clean Air Eastbourne, follow it on Twitter at @EastbourneAir