Air pollution in Sheffield ‘closely linked’ with heart disease cases

Traffic queueing on Penistone Road in Sheffield
Traffic queueing on Penistone Road in Sheffield

Air pollution is closely linked with cases of heart disease and breathing problems in Sheffield, a new report has said.

Analysis which went before Sheffield Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board reveals a ‘strong correlation’ between average levels of pollution in different areas of the city and hospital admissions for circulatory diseases and coronary heart disease.

The report said air pollution is worse in poorer areas of the city.

Dr Olufunke Adedeji, a public health consultant, said air quality is a ‘major public health issue for the city’, with an estimated 300 to 500 people dying prematurely each year due to poor air quality.

The report said: “Air quality is worse along busy road corridors and in the more disadvantaged areas. Poor air quality is therefore a significant contributor to health inequalities in the city.”

It added: “Analysis of Sheffield’s hospital admissions for ‘circulatory diseases’ and for coronary heart disease also both show a strong correlation with the annual average concentration of small particulate matter in the relevant neighbourhoods.”

Sheffield is currently missing EU air quality targets and the report said it is ‘not likely’ to be below the legal limit until 2020 at the earliest.

The report said road transport is the largest single contributor to Sheffield’s nitrogen dioxide emissions and without ‘significant investment’, pollution limits will continue to be breached.

It added: “The success of the air quality action plan is dependent on a major shift away from the use of diesel fuel in the urban area of Sheffield.”

The report said funding is needing for ultra-low emission vehicles.

Sheffield is one of 12 cities that have been shortlisted for a share of a £35m fund to promote ultra-low emission vehicles, with winners due to be announced in the autumn.

Also nominated are York, London, Leicester, Milton Keynes, Nottingham and Oxford.

Sheffield Council has been running an ‘Air Aware’ campaign aimed at city drivers, with electronic signs around the city promoting the idea of driving less and not using diesel cars.

Drivers are also being encouraged to make sure their tyres are properly inflated to help them reduce their fuel consumption.