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Experts to discuss Scottish air quality in Edinburgh

A range of air quality experts are set to speak at the ‘Air Pollution: Out of Sight, Out of Mind’ event hosted by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) tomorrow

An event focusing on Scottish air quality is being hosted by SEPA tomorrow (March 26) as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival (EISF).

The event, ‘Air Pollution: Out of Sight, Out of Mind’, is being held at the University of Edinburgh’s Teviot Row Dining Room and will include a number of talks from air quality experts, a debating session and a practical demonstration of air quality monitoring.

An event focusing on Scottish air quality is being hosted by SEPA in Edinburgh on March 26

An event focusing on Scottish air quality is being hosted by SEPA in Edinburgh on March 26

Speaking at the event – to be chaired by SEPA board member and Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon – will be King’s College London’s professor Frank Kelly, who will be discussing the impact of air quality on human health, the sources of pollution and public attitudes towards the issue.

Joining him will be Drew Hill, senior environmental engineer at Transport Scotland, who will discuss the impact and management of traffic.

Also speaking at the event will be Dr Colin Gillespie, principal air scientist at SEPA, who has expertise on the causes and effects of atmospheric pollution on air quality. With 16 years’ experience in his field, Dr Gillespie has lead research programmes on the transportation, deposition and effects of environmental pollutants.

Following the speakers, a debate focusing on what individuals can do to reduce air pollution will be led by Philip Glennie, communities manager of sustainable transport charity Sustrans Scotland.

SEPA staff will then give a demonstration of the agency’s air quality monitoring equipment and discuss its Airborne Hazards Emergency Response (AHER) Service. The AHER sets out guidance for action and air monitoring in the event of an incident such as a chemical fire, explosion or release of gases.

‘perfect time’

Commenting on the event, Dr Gillespie said: “Air pollution has been a concern in Scotland, and in other industrialised countries, for many years and it is vital that we discuss its impacts on both the environment and human health.

He added: “The urban environment is complex, with many factors contributing to local air quality and the government, local authorities, and general public all have important roles to play in tackling this challenging environmental problem. With 2013 being the European “Year of Air”, this is the perfect time for the issue to be seriously addressed and everyone to come together and do something about it.”

The event will start at 6pm and is expected to last approximately 90 minutes. Tickets are £8 (£6 concession) and can be purchased via the EISF website, by phone (0844 557 2686). They can also be purchased at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Shop, 180 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1QS. Any remaining tickets can be bought at the venue 30 minutes before the event starts.

More information on the AHER service is available on the SEPA website.

Professor Frank Kelly also spoke at an air quality conference in Telford, Shropshire, earlier this month, where he said that the lack of quality exposure data was the ‘Achilles’ heel’ of research on the health impacts of air pollution (see airqualitynews.com story).

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