Linlithgow has joined Scotland’s polluted streets roster of shame, according to environment campaigners – who are demanding urgent action.
Linlithgow, along with Broxburn and Newton, is a West Lothian Air Quality Management Area, designated by the council as an area where improvement targets set for 2010 have not been met.
The chief Linlithgow hazard is said to be the High Street, where the volume of vehicles combines with traffic snarls to produce what’s said to be dangerous levels of exhaust emissions.
Edinburgh’s Queensferry Road is also highlighted as a public health hazard in the new report from Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland, who say up to 2,500 Scots are dying every year from traffic and other pollution.
Exhaust fumes have been linked with cancer, allergies, asthma, strokes, heart attacks, restricted foetal development, damaged lung development in children and the onset of dementia in adults.
FoE says air pollution is second only to smoking as a silent killer.
FoE Scotland air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “Air pollution from traffic is a public health crisis, claiming thousands of lives each year and particularly harmful for small children, pregnant women and people living in poverty.
“For people living in an official Pollution Zone or near traffic-choked streets, breathing in toxic air is an inescapable fact of life. I
“It should not be this way, we have the right to breathe clean air just as we have the right to drink clean water.”
She says neither the Scottish Government nor councils are taking the issue with the urgency needed, adding that five new pollution zones have been added to the roster of shame since last year.
“The Scottish Government has promised a ‘plan’ for Low Emission Zones by 2018,” she added, “but needs to make a public commitment that it will provide significant funding, so that local councils can get on with making serious plans to clean up the air in their area.”
FoE Scotland also wants the Scottish Government to bring in measures to cut traffic in built-up areas by providing more safe walking and cycling paths, supporting public transport to cut congestion, and either taxing or banning polluting traffic from the worst areas.
Ms Hanna added: “Our addiction to cars is killing us, but it’s those who tend not to drive who are worst impacted by pollution – children, the elderly, and those living in poverty.”