These are the two Portsmouth GP surgeries located in ‘toxic’ air quality spots

PATIENTS at two Portsmouth surgeries are among those in England most at risk from 'life-threatening' conditions due to high levels of air pollution.

By Fiona Callingham
Wednesday, 13th February 2019, 5:05 pm
Updated Monday, 18th February 2019, 10:14 am
Air quality near doctors' surgeries is in the spotlight in Portsmouth
Air quality near doctors' surgeries is in the spotlight in Portsmouth

New analysis from the environmental cities network UK100 revealed that more than 23,000 patients in the city are exposed to 'toxic' levels of air that are well above the World Health Organisation (WHO) limits.

Both Kirklands Surgery in Copnor and the Hanway Group Practice in Fratton were named in the top ten GP surgeries within the country's worst air pollution spots.

Potentially harmful particle matter of under 2.5 micrometers in size was recorded at both sites at a rate of 14.29 per cubic metre of air, compared to the WHO 'safe' standard of 10 per cubic metre.

Air quality near doctors' surgeries is in the spotlight in Portsmouth

Portsmouth City Council's head of environment, Councillor Dave Ashmore, explained that the areas in question had already been flagged up. 'The surgeries mentioned in the report are either located in one of our air quality management areas (AQMAs), or close by,' he said.

'There are five AQMAs in Portsmouth, and currently the London Road area is the only one that exceeds government levels of nitrogen dioxide. London Road suffers from congestion and as there are tall buildings on both sides of the road the fumes cannot disperse, like they do in other areas.'

Particulate matter (PM) can be either human-made or natural and includes dust, ash and soot. It is emitted during the combustion of solid and liquid fuels, such as for power generation, domestic heating and in vehicle engines.

The data, that was published by the British Lung Foundation and NHS Digital, showed that across England 17.9 million patients (or one in three) are registered to GP surgeries in locations with higher particulate matter than the WHO standard.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: 'It’s just not acceptable that nearly 18 million people are breathing unsafe levels of air pollution when seeking medical care from their GP.

'We know that our society’s most vulnerable people – especially children, the elderly and those with heart and lung problems – are most at risk from air pollution. More must be done to keep them and health care staff safe; WHO’s limit on particulate matter pollution should be included in the upcoming Environment Bill to ensure we meet it.'

Cllr Ashmore added: 'We are committed to improving Portsmouth's air quality and reducing harmful emissions across the city, focusing in particular on our most polluted areas, including the introduction of electric vehicle charge points in residential areas, retrofitting buses with greener exhaust systems, delivering walk to school schemes, improving cycling infrastructure and you may have seen recent coverage of our anti-idling campaign.'

Government figures show that 36,000 people die prematurely from air pollution every year. In Portsmouth 95 deaths a year are linked to air pollution.

UK law, under an EU directive, sets acceptable particulate matter as 25 per cubic metre but there is currently a push to change this to the WHO standard.