Call to confront a ‘silent killer’

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A CONFERENCE to promote cleaner and healthier air is to be held in Sheffield – where some pollution levels are above European guidelines.

Community, council and health service representatives aim to halt a “public health crisis” which is estimated to result in 500 early deaths each year in the city and make residents’ lives a misery through chronic lung and cardiovascular disease.

The event is being held at the Friends Meeting House in St James Street, near the Anglican Cathedral, on December 2 and will attempt to encourage the type of political support that led to the successful tackling of Sheffield’s industrially-produced air pollution in the 1950s.

Now the emphasis has switched to preventing air pollution caused by vehicle emissions, especially from diesel vehicles, and to promote healthier lifestyles as part of a comprehensive assault on “this invisible killer”.

Speakers will include Ben Anderson, a public health consultant for NHS Sheffield, Alan Andrews, of Client Earth, which is taking the Government to judicial review for breaking European air pollution laws, and Ted Gunby, of Carter Knowle and Millhouses Community Group, which persuaded the council to reject plans for an extension to the Sainsbury’s superstore in Archer Road, Millhouses on the grounds of extra traffic and air pollution.

The council’s air quality team, which has produced an action plan to try to reduce pollution levels to ensure they comply with European limits, will also be represented, along with the East End Quality of Life Initiative, which works to improve air quality near the M1 motorway.

A spokesperson for the Healthy Air Campaign said: “If we were able to clean up our air in the 1950s, we can make our air healthy today. With political will from the top and action from the ground up, this public health crisis can be stopped in its tracks.”