Even though air quality in the UK is much improved compared to 1950s, it is still a problem for British residents’ health.
Air pollution, especially void particles like PM 2. 5 and NO2 is responsible for around 220 deaths each year among people aged 30 and over in the Cardiff and Vale Health Board area, according to Public Health Wales.
Poor air quality is probably the second greatest health concern, which is related to a lot of diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases and reduce life expectancy.
“Void particles actually very similar so the airborne particulate and they do pretty much the same thing they cause respiritory infections and they tend to target,” said Dr. Tim Jones, an expert in airborne particulate pollution from Cardiff University. “Young people young babies and old people and people with pre existing respiratory problems like asthma. ”
The UK has a long history of air pollution problems, dating back to the industrial revolution in last century, when the extensive use of low-quality coal led to the direct release of large quantities of harmful substances into the air.
One of the worst pollution was the Great Smog in 1952, which killed 4,000 people and over 100,000 suffered. After that, the UK government has taken a number of drastic measures to combat the problem of air pollution. So everything seems to get better and better.
“Since the Clean Air Act and now while the green efforts to green, pollutions really improved and then occasionally you have problems with particular matter,”said Dr. Tim Jones. “It’s very rapid improvement. And now it’s beginning to level off but it will level off and there is still much to be done ”
As for Wales, the Cardiff Council is required to take measures to reduce pollution levels of nitrogen dioxide to the legal limit specified in European legislation in the shortest time these years. Promoting public transportation is one of significant way to reach the standards.
For example, Cardiff Council’s clean air plan aims reduce dangerous levels of air pollution by improving public transport and cycling infrastructure in the city centre.
New cycle paths will be built, while diesel and petrol buses and taxis will be replaced with more efficient and electric models to cut down on emissions.
“I would say they need to have more electric buses and those buses should either be much cheaper or even free. Then that’s a real incentive for people not to bother with cars and to get a free bus,” said Dr. Tim Jones. “It means there are lots of buses and they are reliable to get to work as opposed to sitting in a traffic jam in the morning.”
Changes would also be made to Castle Street and Westgate Street where fewer cars will be able to pass through thus enabling buses to travel around the city centre more swiftly.
The Welsh Government announced a new policy in 2019 that would lower the national default speed restriction in residential zones to 20 mph.
The policy will become law in late summer of 2023 having been approved by the Welsh Senedd.
Imperial College’s evaluation of 20mph zones shows slowing traffic has no negative influence on air quality. Low-speed driving reduces particulate emissions from tires and brakes.
Cardiff’s most polluted streets have improved in air quality from pre-pandemic levels, according to a new report from the Cardiff Council. As reported in the Council’s 2022 Annual Progress Report, improvements in air quality during 2021 were observed across the city using data collected at monitoring stations.