Air pollution linked to five deaths a week in Bristol

Air pollution contributes to five premature deaths a week in Bristol, according to a new study.

The study was released today (November 18) by UK100, a network of local authority leaders, and King’s College London, and is the first time that new government guidance on ‘mortality burdens’ of air pollution developed by a government advisory committee (COMEAP) have been applied in practice to Bristol.

The study looks at the combined impact of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and found that between 200-261 people deaths are attributable to air pollution every year.

It also shows that an eight-year-old child, born in 2011, could die up to six months early if exposed over their lifetimes to air pollution, even taking into account the anticipated reduction in air pollution from 2011 to 2030.

The highest concentrations of PM2.5 and NO2 air pollution in Bristol were in areas of the city which have seen massive population growth in recent years.

The study also estimates that air pollution will cost Bristol between £50m and £170m every year until 2030.

However, the population in Bristol would gain around 150,000 life-years over a lifetime to 2134 if air pollution concentrations improved as projected from 2011 to 2030, compared with 2011 levels.

Read the study here.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: ‘We have a moral, ecological and legal duty to clean up the air we breathe. This research emphasises how vital it is that we act quickly to improve health and save lives in Bristol.’

Earlier this month, Bristol councillors gave the green light to plans that will see diesel vehicles banned in a part of the city centre as well as a wider Clean Air Zone (CAZ), subject to government approval.

The authority was expected to choose one or the other but after technical data suggested that they would not reach legal compliance for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) for another decade under either the CAZ or diesel ban, they have decided to opt for a ‘hybrid’ approach, which combines the two to move forward the compliance date to 2025.

It will make Bristol the first city in the UK the implement a ban on diesel vehicles, which would be between 7am and 3pm in part of the M32, the old city, Redcliffe, Spike Island, the Harbourside and part of Hotwells. The CAZ will cover a wider area of the city.