Mon, Mar 25, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Deadly air in our cities: the invisible killer

Traffic pollution is putting our children at risk. Meet the campaigners — many of them concerned mothers — fighting back

by Tim Smedley  /  The Guardian

“It used to be car car car car ?every second a car. Now, occasionally you see a car. And have you noticed how we can talk to each other? We don’t have to shout over traffic. You see the difference it makes to everyone’s moods.”

She points to a CCTV-like camera on a pole that automatically fines any offending vehicle, using number-plate recognition: “Any car that goes past that will automatically be fined. If you drive through [the school gate restriction] it will be £65 — if you then drive through the school street, it will be another £65.”

The difference it will make to pollution levels and children’s lungs will be huge, too. Scientists now know that pollution is all about exposure — how close we are to the traffic or the smoke source. Small children and babies in buggies are literally sitting at head-height to the exhaust pipes; with smaller lungs, they also breathe it in more rapidly.

Change can be achieved if people come together and demand it. Air pollution isn’t a London-only problem, or even a big-city problem.

It’s an “anywhere with cars and smoke” problem. The answer isn’t to ban cars but it is to reduce exposure and to protect the most vulnerable.

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