Southampton MP calls for urgency in tackling ‘air quality health crisis’

clean air southampton how clean is-air 200pxIn the week that a new study warned of toxic particles from air pollution, which have been linked to Alzheimer’s and perhaps other health issues, as being abundant in the human brain, a Southampton MP has called for urgency in tackling our ‘air quality health crisis’.


Cllr Dave Shields (Lab), Southampton City Council cabinet member responsible for health and sustainability, and Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test (Lab), attended the All Party Parliamentary Group set up to look at air pollution issues in the UK..

‘triple whammy’

“We are an urban community living near a major port and we are affected by a triple whammy of additional vehicle movements into and out of the docks, dockside industrial processes and the impact of cruise liners when in port,” Cllr Shields said.

Alan Whitehead MP agreed with the chair of the group who described poor air quality as a “clear cut public health crisis”.

“In light of these new findings on the presence of particles from air pollution in the brain and the continuing evidence on how poor air quality contributes to lung and heart disease as well as other serious health issues, there needs to be more urgency in tackling the issue both locally and nationally. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Parliament to hopefully implement some solutions.”

One of the possible solutions Whitehead says he’s raised is shore-to-ship power, also known as ‘cold ironing’, where cruise liners plug into mains electricity when they visit the port, reducing their contribution to air pollution. Another is the possibility of converting certain vehicles in the city to run on Liquefied Petroleum Gas rather than diesel.

‘Public health emergency’

Liz Batten of Clean Air Southampton commented: “This move by our local politicians is to be welcomed. We need to remove diesel in all its forms from our environment - ships, lorries, buses, taxis, trains and private cars.

“We are at the beginning of understanding how many harmful particles may be in the air we breathe, many of which are yet to be measured properly. The Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health called this a ‘public health emergency’ when they published their landmark report [Every breath we take] in February this year.

“The issue is now higher on the agenda and we must start making real changes to our road, rail and shipping to put people first. Southampton is being challenged to show how it can be done well.”


Toxic air pollution particles found in human brains - Guardian 5/9/16
Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution - Royal College of Physicians

Clean Air Zone launched – but does it go far enough?
Video: Pollution in Southampton - 'We really must now act'

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