Glasgow has highest level of toxic pollution in UK

5th highest out of 400 European cities too

by Sarah Barth   September 25, 2012  

Glasgow traffic.jpg

Glasgow is the most polluted city in the UK, and the fifth worst in the whole of Europe, a new study shows.

The report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) measured the toxic gas nitrogen dioxide, caused by exhaust fumes and industrial pollution.

Only ten cities, of which Glasgow was one, breached the limits for the harmful gas. Levels in Glasgow were 46.3 microgrammes per cubic metre, above the legal European limit of 40mg/m3.

Professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA executive director, told the Scotsman: “European Union policy has reduced emissions of many pollutants over the last decade, but in many countries, air pollutant concentrations are still above the legal and recommended limits… [and] air pollution reduces human life expectancy by around two years in the most polluted cities and regions.”

WWF Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon said: “This report identifies that nitrogen dioxide is causing health problems for people in Glasgow and bringing forward their deaths. It is killing people.

“A congestion charge for Glasgow has been proposed before and is working well in reducing pollution in London. I would like to see it introduced here.”

Scottish Green Party leader and MSP for Glasgow Patrick Harvie said: “At the heart of the solution is providing reliable, clean buses and trains and safer routes for cycling and walking. We need to see a much greater sense of urgency from councils and the government.”

According to government information, nitrogen dioxide is pretty nasty stuff:

    Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is one of a group of gases called nitrogen oxides. Road transport is estimated to be responsible for about 50% of total emissions of nitrogen oxides, which means that nitrogen dioxide levels are highest close to busy roads and in large urban areas. Gas boilers in buildings are also a source of nitrogen oxides.

    

    There is good evidence that nitrogen is harmful to health. The most common outcomes are respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath and cough. Nitrogen dioxide inflames the lining of the lung and reduces immunity to lung infections such as bronchitis. Studies also suggest that the health effects are more pronounced in people with asthma compared to healthly individuals.

    In recent years the average level of nitrogen dioxide within London has not fallen as quickly as predicted. This largely appears to be the result of diesel cars creating more nitrogen dioxide than was anticipated.

    

    Nitrogen dioxide also reacts with hydrocarbons in the presence of sunlight to create ozone, and contributes to the formation of particles*.

    

    *tiny bits of solids or liquids suspended in the air, that can settle in the airway and deep in the lungs and cause health problems.

12 user comments

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Quote:
Scottish Green Party leader and MSP for Glasgow Patrick Harvie said: “At the heart of the solution is providing reliable, clean buses and trains and safer routes for cycling and walking. We need to see a much greater sense of urgency from councils and the government.”

+1 for politicians talking sense

posted by mad_scot_rider [520 posts]
25th September 2012 - 19:11

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Reducing the number of buses on the streets of Glasgow will go a long way to reducing the pollution and improving safety for cyclists.

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posted by netclectic [110 posts]
25th September 2012 - 19:14

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Quote:
Glasgow has highest level of toxic pollution in UK

Funny, I though Iron Bru was made in Cumbernauld.

(Actually, I quite like it myself, but you might want to add the word "air" to the title.)

posted by handlebarcam [527 posts]
25th September 2012 - 20:40

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netclectic wrote:
Reducing the number of buses on the streets of Glasgow will go a long way to reducing the pollution and improving safety for cyclists.

That is very true. I lived in Glasgow for a number of years. Reducing the number during the day would work. But first thing in the morning until about 10am they are packed and the same from 4pm-7pm.

I don't know if its still the same, but that's what I used to experience until I moved and could use a south side train.

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posted by Gkam84 [8347 posts]
25th September 2012 - 21:20

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Reducing the number of buses?

Glasgow is clogged up with cars and I wonder if the ridiculous numbers of traffic lights with long waiting times also have an effect.

posted by paulfg42 [359 posts]
25th September 2012 - 22:17

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I would've thought Middlesborough would've been worse.

I know Athens has a particularly low air quality. Is it the worst in Europe?

I was in China a few weeks back for work and the air pollution in Jining was terrible, though not as bad as Delhi used to be until diesel vehicles were banned.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2003 posts]
25th September 2012 - 22:44

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So how would all the people on the buses then travel? The real problem in Glasgow is that the transport policy of the last 40 years has been all about increasing the number of cars entering the city. These are the major source of NOx in the city. if they really want to change this, then there needs to be a mix of active travel and mass transport solutions. The car is so last century...

posted by Kim [124 posts]
26th September 2012 - 9:51

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It seems that Kevin McKenna (executive editor for the Daily Mail in Scotland) is of the belief that reducing the number of cyclist in Glasgow is part of the solution. At least according to his Guardian article anyway:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/23/kevin-mckenna-ross-k...

posted by ron611087 [17 posts]
26th September 2012 - 9:56

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Some of the worst pollution in the city is from buses. All these strict emissions laws for petrol vehicles are made a mockery of when diesels are allowed to belch out clouds of soot.

posted by Paul J [453 posts]
26th September 2012 - 10:44

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Hurrah, Glasgow came top in something related to cycling!

The buses can be a bit throaty at times, but happily our frequent moist weather keeps most of the particles well damped down. I certainly find I inhale more grunt in London than up here..

posted by Darkerside [56 posts]
26th September 2012 - 10:52

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Really doesn't surprise me when you see the sheer volume of vehicles forced through some of the streets in Glasgow. Am not sure of the figure but there is a ridiculous amount of bus companies competing for business. This makes the roads particularly dangerous as these drivers appear to be racing each other for fares. Personally there are certain roads I refuse to use due to the pollution and shoddy driving. I did read some where that the GCC is meant to be taking vehicles off the road if the companies do not 'clean up' in an attempt to sort out the problen. I may be wrong.

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posted by giff77 [982 posts]
27th September 2012 - 10:42

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Ach, it's fine. Lot of nonsense. It's a great city for cycling, been doing so for 18+ years. Nowt wrong with the air outwith the very congested city centre. The godamm rain on the other hand...

posted by richardvaltos [18 posts]
27th September 2012 - 21:54

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