Air pollution threat could harm people across Falkirk district

An air pollution warning has been issued for much of Scotland
An air pollution warning has been issued for much of Scotland

A warning over air pollution affecting most of Scotland has come from an environmental group.

Friends of the Earth Scotland warned levels of toxic Particulate Matter are forecast to break World Health Organisation and Scottish regulatory safety standards.

There will be moderate or high air pollution across Falkirk, Dumfries and Galloway, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Fife, Glasgow, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, and West Lothian.

The episode is expected to continue tomorrow with air quality improving later in the week.

The source of this pollution is blowing in from continental Europe and combining with local sources, such as transport. Low winds over the past 24 hours have limited the dispersal of the pollution.

Air pollution damages public health and has been linked to cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and restricted development in unborn babies and children.

Gavin Thomson, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “This pollution episode has been caused by a combination of pollution drifting in from other countries mixing with the traffic fumes being belched out by vehicles on our streets.

“People with lung or heart problems are particularly at risk. If people do experience symptoms, the government’s official health advice is to consider reducing strenuous physical activity, particularly outdoors. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often.”

Adding that the levels on the streets was “illegal and unsafe”, he called on the Scottish Government to protect citizens.

He added: “We need Low Emission Zones in every major city in Scotland to exclude the most polluting vehicles from the most polluted places.

“People in Scotland, particularly those with health conditions, need a much more comprehensive warning system. Air pollution events such as this one need to be widely communicated to the general public, with enough advance to allow people to limit their exposure and protect their health.

“Air pollution is like passive smoking, you don’t get a choice over the air you breathe. Society’s most vulnerable people are the hardest hit. If the Scottish Government believes in fairness and protecting public health it must tackle this pollution urgently.”

“To really address our chronic pollution problems, the Scottish Government needs to improve bus services, introduce 20mph zones as the norm in towns and cities, and roll out safe walking and cycling infrastructure so that cars are no longer the dominant mode of transport in built up areas. A third of people in Scotland don’t have access to a car and it is completely unfair that they are forced to suffer the harms of invisible, poisonous air pollution.”