conditions can expect to die up to nine years earlier. “Overall the adverse effects of pollutions are such that it has a bigger effect on life expectancy than road traffic accidents and passive smoking.”
The council, which has been working on strategies for years, admits it is a “really stubborn” issue.
Although traffic levels are broadly the same as ten years ago, use of buses declined up to 2011, and more cars are now entering the city centre. The council says numbers of bus passengers are now starting to pick up as a result of an agreement involving the operators, and a main plank of its anti-pollution policy is to encourage people to turn to public transport, walking and cycling instead of taking the car.
It is looking at declaring a Low Emission Zone for buses and other vehicles, and generally wants to promote initiatives such as electric cars to help cut nitrogen dioxide and particulate concentrations.
Mr Parry said there had been a lack of willingness so far at government level to make a real difference, but added: “We really need the city council to champion this. It should be ingrained in all their work.”
At the same time, a shift in public attitude was needed, with people being more aware of the consequences of actions such as driving children a short distance to their school.
Yet cultural change could be achieved. “Nobody took a lot of notice about what was happening with smoking for quite a few years, even though it was known to affect your health. But we need to get a move on.”
l State of Sheffield, page 3.