Perth’s Atholl Street and Crieff High Street among Scotland’s most polluted in 2016

Perth’s Atholl St and Crieff’s High St have featured in a list of Scotland’s most polluted streets, published last week by Friends of the Earth Scotland

Perth’s Atholl St and Crieff’s High St have featured in a list of Scotland’s most polluted streets, published last week by Friends of the Earth Scotland

The list shows that streets in many parts of Scotland continue to have unsafe and illegal levels of toxic pollution seven years after a legal deadline and despite a Government plan to comply with clean air obligations.

Perth’s Atholl Street topped the list of most polluted streets for Particulate Matter (PM10), with a reading of 21 microgrammes per cubic metre, above the Scottish standard of 18. It had a nitrogen dioxide (NO2) reading of above 40, which is the maximum legal limit.

Crieff’s High Street had a Particulate Matter reading of 19 microgrammes per cubic metre.

Both Perth and Crieff town centre are official Pollution Zones, meaning that the Council has declared that they experience regular breaches of pollution safety standards.

Traffic-derived air pollution, mainly composed of fine particles and toxic gases, has been linked with cancer, allergies, asthma, strokes, heart attacks, restricted foetal development, damaged lung development in children, and more recently, the onset of dementia in adults. It causes 2500 early deaths in Scotland each year, and is second only to smoking in terms of its mortality impacts.

The results of Scotland’s most polluted streets for 2016:

Nitrogen Dioxide
Top 9 most polluted streets for nitrogen dioxide in 2016.
Figures in microgrammes per cubic metre (μg/m3).

Glasgow Hope Street – 65
Edinburgh St John’s Road – 49
Aberdeen Wellington Road – 46
Dundee Seagate 46
Cambuslang Main Street – 45
Aberdeen Union Street – 43
Edinburgh Queensferry Road – 42
Glasgow Dumbarton Road – 42
Perth Atholl Street – 40

The European Ambient Air Quality Directive set a limit for NO2 of 40μg/m3, so all these sites are breaking the legal limit. The deadline for compliance was 1 January 2010.

Particulate Matter (PM10)
Top 7 most polluted streets for Particulate Matter in 2016
Figures in microgrammes per cubic metre (μg/m3).

Perth Atholl Street – 21
Edinburgh Queensferry Road – 20
Edinburgh Salamander St – 20
Aberdeen King Street – 19
Crieff High Street – 19
Falkirk West Bridge Street – 19
Edinburgh Glasgow Road – 18

The Scottish air quality objective is 18 (μg/m3), so all these sites fail the objective.
The Air Quality (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2002 required this objective to have been met by 2010.

Friends of the Earth Scotland Air Pollution Campaigner Emilia Hanna said,

“Air pollution from traffic is a public health crisis, claiming thousands of lives each year and particularly harmful for small children, pregnant women and people living in poverty. For people living in an official Pollution Zone or near traffic-choked streets, breathing in toxic air is an inescapable fact of life. It should not be this way, we have the right to breathe clean air just as we have the right to drink clean water.

“The Scottish Government and local authorities are not tackling this public health crisis with the seriousness and urgency required. The Scottish Government has promised a “plan” for Low Emission Zones by 2018 but needs to make a public commitment that it will provide significant funding, so that local councils can get on with making serious plans to clean up the air in their area. Councils will be reluctant to introduce a Low Emission Zone unless they know there will be funding to help set them up.

“In addition to Low Emission Zones, the Scottish Government must introduce measures to cut traffic from our streets. It can achieve this by a combination of providing more safe walking and cycling paths, supporting public transport to cut congestion, and taxing or banning polluting traffic from the worst areas.

“Our addiction to cars is killing us. But it’s those who tend not to drive who are worst impacted by pollution: children, the elderly, and those living in poverty.”

The list published today, comes against the backdrop of concerns by Scone residents that a proposed housing development for 700 houses north of the village will worsen air pollution further in the centre of Perth as well as in Scone.

Jill Belch, from Scone and District Community Council said,

‘It is well recognised that significant ill health such as heart attacks and strokes are associated with high pollution. These illegal levels in Perth, now also detected in Scone, led to an embargo on any non brownfield developments before the Cross Tay Link Road was built. This embargo was to prevent any increase in traffic feeding into Atholl Street and its surrounding polluted area. We cannot understand why such a disregard to our health is happening with the removal of this embargo, for this development. I am now deeply worried about the health of this community and that around Atholl Street.’

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