A PUBLIC inquiry into air pollutants linked to birth defects was demanded last night, to try to stop thousands of people being killed each year.
Experts believe poor air quality contributed to 29,000 deaths in the UK in 2008, with 4,300 in London.
Critics of air control measures say the public is being duped into thinking the air is getting cleaner when they argue that it is in fact becoming more of a health hazard. Today we publish details from a report on air quality written in 2011 by London mayor Boris Johnson which reveals worrying findings about the danger of pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Mr Johnson introduced the controversial policy of banning black cabs which were more than 15 years old in London with many replaced by the apparently greener Mercedes Benz Vito six seaters. However, he says in his report the more modern cars, including the Vito, emit “around five times as much direct NO2”.
US researchers discovered that exposure to high levels of traffic pollution causes birth defects.
They found mothers living in areas with the highest levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other pollutants were almost twice as likely to give birth to a child with neural tube defects, like spina bifida.
Mr Johnson’s report admits: “NO2 levels have not fallen in recent years as modelling had predicted. This is a problem in major cities in the UK and the EU.
“Evidence suggests this may be due to the failure of recent Euro standards to deliver expected reductions of NO2. Meeting NO2 limit values is much more challenging and is a problem in many urban areas in the UK.”
He urged the Government to implement tax incentives for cleaner vehicles and called for more research into the impact of poor air quality at local and national level “to help communities play their part in air quality management”.
The report admits that measures introduced by the mayor, such as low emission zones, will not be sufficient to meet NO2 limits set for 2015. In 2011 Londoners endured some of the highest levels of large particulate pollution in eight years.
Last night Ukip mayoral candidate Lawrence Webb said: “People think the air is getting better but it is getting worse. People are being duped.
“Mr Johnson’s report reveals some of the more disturbing truths. More people will die due to poor air quality in the future and that is why we need a public inquiry.”
Clean air campaigner David Davies, director of Eco Power, said: “The mayor has not implemented a single effective policy to reduce pollution and has failed in his legal duty to protect the public.”
The mayor’s spokesman said: “Since he took office, emissions of oxides of nitrogen are down by 20 per cent. There is still more to do, which is why the mayor announced plans for a new Ultra Low Emission Zone from 2020.”
Source: Sunday Express.