At road junctions and in housing estates in Nottingham, levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are exceeding World Health Organisation (WHO) limits, local campaigners have warned.
The campaign group Clean Air Nottingham used air quality monitoring equipment loaned from the University of Nottingham to carry out PM2.5 readings around the city on two different afternoons.
The campaigners estimate that the problem is killing 150 people in Nottingham each year and is making many more people slightly or severely ill.
Despite the problem, Nottingham City Council only has one automatic monitoring station which measures PM2.5, while PM2.5 is not specifically included in the councilâ€™s clean air plans.
â€˜PM2.5 is a secret killer in two ways,â€™ says Roger Critchley, co-author of the report. â€˜Firstly, because most people donâ€™t know about it. Secondly, because no-one knows the exact sources of these fine particles in Nottingham.â€™
The results revealed high levels of fine particles not just by busy junctions and roads but also within housing estates, although two readings taken at Nottingham train station were not â€˜notably highâ€™.
Overall, the researchers found readings between 7Î¼g/m3 and 15Î¼g/m3 throughout the city area, commenting that the similarity of many of the readings illustrates PM2.5â€™s â€˜pervasive effectâ€™ in Nottingham.
Clean Air Nottingham has called on the council to identify the sources of Nottinghamâ€™s PM2.5 pollution and monitor its levels citywide so it can draw up a plan of action.
â€˜Nottingham City Council has focused on nitrogen dioxide in the air and theyâ€™ve made some good progress,â€™, said Karl Barrow, report co-author. â€˜Yet the biggest killer has been sidelined.
â€˜The city only has one monitoring point for PM2.5, so weâ€™re calling for Nottingham City Council, the government and other bodies to measure exactly what is going on and pinpoint exactly what is causing it.
‘Without such information no real progress can be made.â€™
In response, Nottingham City Council said they are taking steps to clean up the cityâ€™s bus and taxi fleet and introducing a workplace car parking levy.
However, it admitted that PM2.5 is a problem in Nottingham but blamed sources from outside the city for the high readings.
Cllr Sally Longford, deputy leader and portfolio holder for energy and environment, said: â€˜We know that PM2.5 is still an issue, not just in Nottingham but across the country.
‘The difficulty is that much of this pollution comes from outside the city and at times can come from some distance away â€“ usually from industrial, commercial and agricultural sources,’ she added.
Yesterday, Environment Minister Michael Gove said the government will enshrine WHO limits for PM2.5 in UK law.
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