Asthma sufferers will benefit from reduced levels of traffic

April 30/2004

London Green Party (UK)

It’s World Asthma Day on Tuesday, May 4 2004 and Shasha Khan the Green Party candidate for the Croydon & Sutton GLA constituency called for further traffic reduction measures to ensure that nitrogen dioxide levels in the air, a factor in exacerbating asthma conditions, met with EU limit values by 2010.

A recent report1 by the Air Quality Expert Group advises that, in 2010, 23% of major road lengths in London are likely to exceed 40 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide (EU limit value), compared with 5% in the rest of England and 0% in Wales.

Nitrogen dioxide is formed when fuel is burnt at high temperatures, principally from motor vehicle exhausts and stationary sources such as electric utilities and industrial boilers.

Children with asthma who contract a respiratory viral infection are likely to suffer more severely from their asthma when exposed to nitrogen dioxide.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Shasha Khan, Green Party Candidate for Croydon and Sutton said, “Speaking as an asthmatic, these predictions are shocking. The six fold increase in children suffering from asthma in the last 25 years, that’s 1 in 8 children, has been attributed to modern day living. In the last five years 51 people have died in Croydon because of asthma. There seems to be no panacea to buck this trend. However, what we do know, we must act upon immediately. The car has been king for too long. Motor traffic must be reduced by 25% within 8 years; this includes getting freight off roads and on to rail.”

The report indicates there is strong evidence that heavy-duty diesel vehicles are a major contributor of nitrogen dioxide.

Interestingly, the report concludes that when developing air pollution controls, there maybe trade-offs between different pollutants. For example, some measures to reduce particle emissions from diesel vehicles can lead to increased emissions of nitrogen dioxide. In view of this, the Air Quality Expert Group suggests “a more flexible and holistic approach to air quality management would create more effective control strategies.”

Green Party mayoral candidate Darren Johnson added, “For those with asthma or respiratory illness, high levels of nitrogen dioxide can be dangerous. My rivals for Mayor of London are either prepared to abandon congestion charging or refusing to extend congestion charging across the capital.”

In the last five years 51 asthma sufferers have died in Croydon.

Statistics taken from the National Asthma Campaign website (6):

On average, 1,400 people die from asthma each year in the UK. This is almost four people per day, or one person every seven hours.

  • About a third of deaths (34%) caused by asthma occur in people under the age of 65.
  • An estimated 75% of admissions for asthma are avoidable and as many as 90% of the deaths (1,500) from asthma are preventable.
  • There are 18,000 first or new episodes of asthma presented each week to GPs in the UK.
  • There are over 71,000 hospital admissions for asthma in the UK in 2001. This equates to 190 per day.
  • A primary care organisation of 100,000 people is likely to experience on average 2–3 deaths from asthma per year.
  • Respiratory disease now kills more people than coronary heart disease – that’s one in four people in the UK.Notes for editors:1. ‘Nitrogen Dioxide in the United Kingdom’ by the Air Quality Expert Group www.defra.gov.uk/environment/airquality/aqeg/nitrogen-dioxide/nd-summary.pdf

    2. World Asthma Day – Tuesday 4th May 2004

    What can you do? Take part in an Asthmacadabra day by dressing up down for work or school; or become an e-campaigner and campaign for better deal for people with asthma. These are just some of the activities that you could support to mark World Asthma Day on 4th May and raise money to help conquer asthma. To receive more information on any of these activities please call 020 7226 2260 or e-mail: worldasthmaday@asthma.org.uk

    3. www.protectingourhealth.org/newscience/asthma/2003/2003-0601chauhanetal.htm

    4. www.asthma.org.uk/news/media02a.php

    Further information Penny Kemp 07711 760692 Shasha Khan: 07941 369 780

    Notes to editors:

  • Shasha Khan, 31 has lived in Croydon for over 20 years. He is the Operations Director for the family run business. He is standing for the Green Party for the London Assembly Constituency of Croydon and Sutton.
  • The London Assembly and the European Parliament elections will be held on June 10th, the same day as the Mayoral Election. At the last Assembly elections the Greens scored one of their best ever results in the Party’s history, securing 11.1% of the vote across London and winning three seats on the 25-member Assembly.
  • Darren Johnson’s vision for a sustainable Green London can be found on his website www.johnsonformayor.org.ukMedia contacts: Penny Kemp – 07711 760692, penny.kemp@virgin.net Graham Lee – 07956 261902, media@london.greenparty.org.uk
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