THE council is to take action to reduce air pollution that is killing almost 300 people per year in the Cheshire West and Chester region.
Cheshire West and Cheshire Council is asking residents to give their views on how best to tackle air pollution and the impact it is having on people’s health.
The draft report says that 290 deaths each year in the borough, which includes Chester, Ellesmere Port, Neston, Frodsham, Helsby, Northwich and Winsford, are attributable to air polution.
This is 9.3 per cent of deaths of people over 25 years of age in a population of about 329,000, with 26 per cent of people living in rural areas.
While air quality in the borough is generally good, there are a small number of areas affected by nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, to which 129 deaths a year are attributable.
Reducing NO2 pollution, as well as particulate matter (PM) which is a term used to describe the mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air, could reduce the number of deaths per year attributable to air pollution by 10 per cent (29 people).
Other benefits could include a reduction in hospital admissions, allergy and asthma attacks, low birth weight and indicators of both respiratory and heart disease.
Cheshire West and Chester Council has unveiled its proposed Low Emission Strategy to help tackle this and ensure that local air quality meets the required standards.
There are currently three Air Quality Management Areas in the borough where nitrogen dioxide level breaches have been detected – in Chester city centre, in the Whitby Road/Station Road area of Ellesmere Port and in a small area in Frodsham at the junction of Fluin Lane and the A56.
Cabinet member for environment, Cllr Karen Shore, said: “There is a much better understanding now of the impact that air pollution can have on people’s health – for many of us the effects are minimal but they can be greater for some of our most vulnerable residents such as children, the elderly and those with health conditions.
“It’s vital therefore that we have a clear plan of how we will work to reduce pollution levels and ensure that our air meets the required levels over the coming years and we’d like to hear our residents’ views on the Strategy proposals.
“I would urge anyone who would like to help shape our Strategy, particularly those living within or close to a current Air Quality Management Area, to make sure they have their say through the consultation.”
Fine particulate matter, a complex mixture of tiny chemical particles that, once inhaled, can remain inside the lungs has been shown to have a detrimental effect on health.
These tiny particles are produced predominantly by combustion processes and are found in exhaust fumes, particularly from diesel vehicles.
Health experts now believe that they are the cause of many circulatory and respiratory illnesses and that they possibly even increase the risk of dementia, with long term exposure resulting in increased demands on the health service including greater hospital admissions.
Cllr Shore added: “While there is no location in the borough where the national air quality standards for fine particulates are exceeded, it is recognised that any reduction in fine particulate matter will result in an improvement in health for our residents.
“Traffic is a major source of fine particulate pollution and the Low Emission Strategy targets traffic as well as other sources, such as solid fuel stoves and construction sites, to help improve air quality.”
The council is now consulting with the public and other interested parties on the content of the proposed Strategy. The consultation will run for just over 12 weeks and close on January 12, 2018.
Residents and businesses, along with any other interested parties, are encouraged to have their say at www.cheshirewestandchester. gov.uk/lowemissionstrategy, by email to environmental protection@cheshirewestand chester.gov.uk, or in writing to Cheshire West and Chester Council, Research, Intelligence and Consultation Team, Nicholas Street, Cheshire CH1 2NP.
See full story in the Chester Leader