Levels of nitrogen dioxide in Eastbourne’s air may be illegally high, according to a new report from Friends of the Earth.
The report, ‘Unmasked: The True Story of the Air You’re Breathing’ which was published on Wednesday, says some parts of Eastbourne have levels of the gas exceeding the legal limit.
Oliver Hayes, a Friends of the Earth campaigner, said, “It’s shocking. These early results suggest the Government is underplaying the true extent of pollution in the UK.”
Results published show significant levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution across the town and potentially illegal levels near St Andrews Primary School, according to Friends of the Earth.
Andy Durling, Eastbourne co-ordinator for the environmental charity, said the EU legal limit for nitrogen dioxide was 40 micrograms per cubic metre each year.
A reading taken at Seaside Road showed 44.89, he said.
Eastbourne resident Miles Berkley said, “Public Health England states 61 people a year die prematurely due to air pollution in the town. My question is, what specific steps have the council taken?”
The levels of nitrogen dioxide were recorded during a Friends of the Earth experiment in which thousands of people - including Eastbourne residents - tested the air quality where they live.
Robert Price, who lives and works in Eastbourne, said as a father of three he was concerned about air pollution but volunteered with Friends of the Earth to see the results for himself.
“We need to take action to make our air safe,” he said.
Mr Price and others helped Friends of the Earth set up clean air kits across the town which were sent to an independent laboratory for testing.
Eastbourne is one of 13 other nitrogen dioxide hotspots the Government did not identify in its air quality plan, which Friends of the Earth has described as “woefully inadequate”.
The environmental group is currently running a Clean Air Everywhere project which began on June 24 and will run until July 3.
The scheme encourages people to challenge the Government’s air quality plan by lobbying MPs, raising air pollution awareness and closing streets to allow children to play away from car fumes.
Friends of the Earth says it is calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to introduce a diesel scrappage scheme encouraging people to switch to environmentally friendly cars.
It also hopes the Government will fund Clean Air Zones.
Mr Hayes said, “Our ‘citizen-scientists’ have shown that if the Government won’t step up to the plate on air quality, ordinary people will.
“People suffering poor health because of air pollution add more weight to the overwhelming case for quicker, tougher action on dirty air.
“The Government must stop playing politics with our health.
“There can be no excuse for weak action as ministers pull together the final Air Quality Plan over coming weeks.”
Mr Durling said, “We all have a right to clean air which is essential for our health and our quality of life.
“It’s also vital to relieve pressure on our hard-pressed NHS.”
Friends of the Earth will be speaking to Eastbourne Borough Council and MP Stephen Lloyd to discuss concerns about the issue of dirty air in Eastbourne.