CAR FUMES KILLING 4,000 EVERY YEAR IN THE MIDLANDS '.
THOUSANDS of people a year could be dying because of choking traffic fumes from increasingly congested Midland roads, it was revealed last night.
The region is blighted by pollution 'hotspots' because it is at the heart of the UK transport network.
The heavy traffic, worsened in recent months by extensive roadworks, is bringing down air quality - which researchers claim is leading to 24,000 deaths nationwide every year.
They believe up to 4,000 may be occurring in the Midlands.
The Sunday Mercury has also discovered Birmingham is failing to achieve government targets in fighting one of the most dangerous air pollutants.
Gavin Tringham, head of environmental protection at Birmingham City Council, said: 'The city does has a problem because of its levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO 2 ) - which comes from exhaust fumes and traffic.
'We will not meet the government objectives for this year for the air quality management area which covers the city.
'We will be developing an action plan in the next 12 months to tackle this problem and hopefully this will influence the new transport plan which is being developed.
'We will be doing everything we can to improve air quality. 'The problem is made worse if vehicles are slow moving as they often are in and around the city because of heavy traffic. Slow or stationary vehicles cause more pollution.'
Mr Tringham revealed the four worst areas in Birmingham for air pollution. They are:
The M6 and A38 corridor;
The city centre;
The Stratford Road in Sparkhill and Sparkbrook.
Last week researchers claimed that air pollution may cause 24,000 premature deaths a year in Britain - including thousands across the Midlands. But the National Society for Clean Air (NSCA) believes the death toll could be twice as high.
Tim Brown, a spokesman for NSCA, said: 'All the big cities have this problem because of the increased traffic on our roads.
'All the health evidence suggest that even everyday levels of pollution have what are called life-shortening effects.
We know that air pollution causes heart and lung disease and that some particle related pollution causes cancer.'
Last week was the 50th anniversary of the great London smog which claimed 4,000 lives in 1952.
Since then the problem of smog - which also affected the Midlands because of its heavy industry - has been eradicated. And experts agree that the pea-souper fogs of the 1950s are also things of the past.
'If you look out of an office window in the city centre today, you can see for miles because some types of pollution have virtually been eradicated,' said Mr Tringham.
DANGER The M6
DANGER Stratford Road
DANGER City centre
DANGER Selly Oak
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|Publication:||Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)|
|Date:||Dec 8, 2002|
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