Wythenshawe & Sale East Member of Parliament, Mike Kane has taken part in a special experiment to measure air quality across the UK.
The experiment is part of an ongoing inquiry being conducted by the Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, which is examining what progress has been made by central and local Government in removing the most polluting vehicles from the road and encouraging cleaner forms of transport.
On the experiment Mike said: “I wore my monitor during my journey back home to Wythenshawe from Westminster and during a day of work in my constituency and Manchester city centre.”
“I had to keep a basic diary of where I was when recording and was also given a GPS watch, so that the locations of particular pollution hot spots could be identified.”
On the results of his monitoring Mike said: “The highest readings were in a car journey across London, which had readings three times higher than the highest readings I experienced in Manchester.”
“The highest readings in Manchester were when I was travelling in a car and inside Manchester Piccadilly train station. The lowest levels were at my home over night and around my office in Wythenshawe town centre.”
On why it is important to raise awareness about air quality Mike said: "Air pollution is thought to contribute to more deaths than passive smoking, traffic accidents or obesity, yet the UK is still breaching European safety limits”
“It has been four years since the Environmental Audit Committee warned that an urgent policy response, greater public awareness and a shift in transport policy was required if air quality was to be improved. The time for action is well overdue.”
The Environmental Audit Committee will take evidence from Boris Johnson, Mayor of London on air quality on Wednesday 10 September (today) at 2.15pm.
The Environmental Research Group at King’s College, London loaned 5 personal air quality monitors to Members of the Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee to monitor the air pollution each individual was exposed to in London and in their constituencies.
The pocket-sized monitors were given to each member and took a reading every second. The monitors are so sensitive they can pick up the effects of individual vehicles.
The experiment has been reported on by Tom Heap as part of BBC Radio Four’s Costing The Earth programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04f9r9h
The Environmental Audit Committee is currently conducting an inquiry to assess Action on Air Quality since it warned about the urgency of the problem in reports during 2010 and 2011.
The inquiry is aiming to identify the state of progress on the recommendations from its 2011 report on Air Quality which focused on a need for action in six areas:
- the priority and targets on air quality in Defra’s planning
- strategy and inter-departmental co-ordination, including on transport and planning matters,
- support for local authorities in tackling air pollution, and how any European Commission fines might fall on them,
- the implications of local authorities’ enhanced responsibilities for public health,
- Low Emissions Zones and vehicle emissions limits, and
public awareness campaigns.
The inquiry will also examine the role that might be played by new environmental technologies, and the scope for wider transport policies — for example on public transport and cycling and walking — to cut air pollution.
The European Commission published ‘Clean Air Policy Package’ proposals in December 2013, which includes possible new air quality targets. In February 2014 the Commission also announced its decision to start financial penalty action against the UK.
Prior to the Environmental Audit Committee launching the inquiry in May 2014 there were smogs in London and Public Health England published data in April on increased mortality from air pollution — the new inquiry will provide an opportunity to identify the latest evidence on the health impacts of air pollution.