Breathing in Portsmouth air is equivalent to smoking 142 cigarettes a year

BREATHING in city air is equivalent to smoking 142 cigarettes a year, a charity has warned.

By Millie Salkeld
Thursday, 5th December 2019, 12:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 1:45 pm
Protesters march from North End to Portsmouth Guild hall to highlight the poor air quality in the city Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Portsmouth residents are at risk of an early death and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has said air pollution must be declared ‘a public health emergency’.

Jacob West, executive director of healthcare innovation at the BHF, said: ‘Air pollution is a major public health emergency and over many years it has not been treated with the seriousness it deserves.

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‘Unless we take radical measures now to curb air pollution, in the future we will look back on this period of inaction with shame.’

Research by Friends of the Earth show in Portsmouth that 34 per cent of emissions come from housing, 29 per cent from transport, and 37 per cent are industrial and commercial emissions.

The BHF wants the next government to urgently introduce tougher World Health Organisation (WHO) air pollution limits.

It said current EU limits - which the UK comfortably meets - for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are 25 micrograms per metre cubed as an annual average.

The WHO limits are tougher - at 10 micrograms per metre cubed as an annual average.

The PM2.5 for Portsmouth is 11.2 and the BHF said PM2.5 can have a ‘seriously detrimental effect to heart health’, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke and making existing health problems worse.

It says that around 11,000 coronary heart disease and stroke deaths each year in the UK are caused by particulate matter air pollution.

Mr West explained: ‘As these figures show, the effect of air pollution on our heart and circulatory system is profound, and we have no choice over the air we breathe in the places we live.

‘Legislation was passed over a decade ago to protect people from passive smoke, and similarly decisive must be taken to protect people from air pollution.

‘The last government accepted that it is possible to implement tougher WHO air pollution limits, and the next government must now do so protect the health of the nation.’