A consultation to tackle the growing pollution problem affecting Dundee residents’ health was this week .
The event was organised as a reaction to Dundee consistently featuring in lists of the most polluted streets in Scotland, with the Seagate and Lochee Road coming out third and fifth respectively in most recent estimates.
Organised by Friends of the Earth Tayside, it brought together members of the public, councillors and a variety of expert speakers.
Solutions such as improving cycling routes, encouraging children to walk to school, and further developing and encouraging electric car use were touted.
Speaker Jackie Hyland, who is a consultant in health protection for NHS Tayside, said the air quality problem in the city can be improved by encouraging lifestyle changes.
She said: “Poor air quality has the greatest impact on the health of vulnerable people – the very young, the elderly, people with existing medical conditions and those living in deprived urban areas.
“We can protect the most vulnerable and improve quality of life by creating connected walking and cycling routes, improving public transport and re-thinking how we travel.”
Tom Stirling, head of community safety and protection for the Council explained the need for the city’s employers, transport providers and the public to contribute in order to achieve the 32 measures that are being pursued through the Air Quality Action Plan.
Also speaking were John Berry, Dundee City Council’s Team Leader for Sustainable Transport and Emilia Hanna, Friends of the Earth Scotland campaigner on air pollution.
Air pollution today has developed from the smog common in 1950s Britain, with the air now permeated with a much more subtle and generally invisible mix of gases and very fine particles.
These can move from the lungs into the circulatory system causing a range of chronic afflictions from asthma to cancer and heart disease, leading to MPs this year describing the situation as a “public health emergency”.
Various measures have already been taken to tackle the problem in Dundee, with the Council’s focus on promoting the use of electric cars resulting in the city being named as the UK’s Electric Vehicle capital.
Emissions in recent years have decreased but levels in many areas are still much higher than the limits recommended by the World Health Organisation.