Manchester public transport can save THOUSANDS of lives, claims green campaign group

More than 2,000 premature deaths could be prevented per year in Manchester by taking public transport, claims Manchester Friends of the Earth.

The green campaign group believes that research based on a study conducted in London will reveal over 2,000 deaths a year in the area are caused by people breathing in traffic-polluted air.

By contrast, less than 30 people died because of road accidents in Manchester during the whole of 2014, according to the Greater Manchester Transportation Unit.

Pete Abel, a member of Manchester Friends of the Earth, said: “We’re killing more than 2,000 a year and yet all we do is talk about cycling, rather than enable it.

“If a car crash happens, we get safety officers involved and we figure out how to stop it from happening again.

“But the number of people dying from car crashes is lower than those linked to dying from the environment.”

The group believes that if more people cycled, or took the bus or train, pollution levels will come down and the thousands of premature deaths linked air pollution could be prevented.

Manchester Friends of the Earth’s own data revealed that air pollution levels in some areas of Greater Manchester are well above some of the agreed EU targets.

Stockport, for example, are recording levels at more than double those limits which took effect in 2005 and 2010.

A campaigner for the group, Colette Humphrey, said: “Air pollution kills tens of thousands of people prematurely each year in the UK, and puts extra strain on our beleaguered NHS. 

“It’s time to tackle the main cause of this pollution, which is too much dirty traffic, by getting more people on to bikes, buses and trains and encouraging cleaner vehicles.”

Air pollution is caused partially by nitrogen dioxide and PM10, a measurement of particles that pollute the air.

These can damage the lungs of adults as well as children and sometimes cause respiratory issues, which can lead to reduced life expectancies.

Last year, Public Health England reported that over 1,000 deaths in the Manchester area were linked to health problems induced by PM10 particles in the air.

Manchester Friends of the Earth believe research will show a further 1,000 deaths are linked to high levels of Nitrous Dioxide.

Councillor Gena Merrett, assistant mayor for housing and environment for Salford, said that Salford City Council, who lead on environment issues for the Greater Manchester local authorities, are looking to put an action plan together to tackle air pollution.

She said: “The action plan sets out the joint plan to tackle the air pollution situation.

“It looks at planning issues, a public transport strategy, a greener car strategy, using electric cars and the infrastructure for electric cars, taking freight of the roads, getting more cycle routes across all areas, reducing emissions from business premises.”

Manchester Friends of the Earth held an open meeting called ‘Breathing It In’ on September 8, inviting members of the public to learn more about green initiatives and get involved in environmental campaigning.

Speakers including Matthew O’Neill, lead air quality officer of transport for Greater Manchester, and Andrea Lee, a Healthy Air campaigner, discussed key green issues and how to tackle the deaths associated with air pollution.

The campaign group is planning more activities and campaigns to raise awareness about environment and health issues within Greater Manchester.

Image courtesy of Chris Sampson, with thanks.

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