Almost 6% of deaths in Birmingham every year – 1 in 20 – are attributable to air pollution.
The latest figures available demonstrate that the city is the third worst local authority in West Midlands for deaths among adults by human-made particles smaller than 2.5 microns, called particulate matter (PM2.5).
The leading city of the list is Sandwell, where 6.2% of deaths in 2011 were linked to air pollution, followed by Walsall (6%). Coventry and Solihull perform slightly better than Birmingham, as pollution here causes respectively 5,8% and 5,6% of the total dead.
However, West Midlands’ local authorities perform better than London boroughs, as many of these occupy the top ranks of the national league. City of London tops it as in 9% of cases adults died due to particulates, right above Kensington (8,9%) and Westminster (8,30%).
Nationally Birmingham is ranked 59th.
The data are collected by Public Health England and referred to 2011 deaths among 30-year-older. West Bromwich and Smethwick are not included.
As the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairsparticles penetrate deeply into the human respiratory system due to their small diameter. Exposure to this particle can lead to increases in hospital admissions, premature death of the old and sick and lung cancer. Road traffic emissions represents a significant contribution to the increase of particulates level in the urban environment.
Councillor James McKay, Labour cabinet member for a Green, Safe and Smart City, said:
“Cities are particularly affected by air pollution, most notably from the transport sector. Although urban density fosters a dynamic economy and enables resource efficiency, we need to be proactive in controlling downsides like air pollution.
“Cities continue to take local action to improve air quality. But unfortunately the causes of air pollution are often outside cities’ control. Many emitters are regulated by European legislation and standards.”
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