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Oxford Tops UK Air Pollution List

New figures show emissions from diesel and petrol vehicle engines could see pedestrians and city dwellers inhaling pollutants equivalent to up to three packs of cigarettes a day.

The research by Calor, a supplier of cleaner road fuel liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), was based on published air quality statistics for 30 UK locations which show the impact of road traffic on local air quality. Levels of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) were compared to the amounts inhaled from a cigarette to illustrate the serious impact of such priority pollutants on public health in the region.

Surprisingly, while London locations were high on the list – Marylebone Road’s average NOx levels equated to 30 cigarettes a day – the most polluted location was Oxford, with the annual average equating to 61 cigarettes a day. The peak level for Oxford equated to 185 cigarettes in a 24-hour period. Another heritage site, Bath, was second at 46 cigarettes while Glasgow gained third place at 44 cigarettes.

The Government’s stated target for average NOx levels is 21 parts per billion – the equivalent of 12 cigarettes a day.

NOx is an irritant pollutant implicated in respiratory disorders and incidences of asthma. An estimated 24,000 premature UK deaths each year are attributed to poor air quality. If all London’s taxi cabs ran on LPG instead of diesel, some 3,000kg of soot per year would be prevented from entering the atmosphere.

Calor’s Andrew Ford said that the “cigarette index” had been produced to alert people to the impact of road traffic on air quality and public health. “Traffic pollution isn’t an abstract problem – it affects human health and quality of life,” he said. He called on local Councils to encourage the use of cleaner fuels, starting with their own vehicle fleets.

Bowes Primary School, north London, has limited its pupils to only 20 minutes’ play outside, due to concerns over air pollution generated by traffic.

“The issue of air quality is a pressing one,” said Andrew Ford. “Public authorities must take the lead and as a matter of urgency investigate the wider use of cleaner road fuels.” He added that while new motor technology such as hydrogen was being developed, existing cleaner fuels should play a prominent part in Government and Council policy.
“ It’s clear that road traffic pollution has a major impact on air quality and any measures to tackle this must be welcomed,” he said.

Calor participated in a major conference on cleaner fuels held in London earlier this month to discuss cleaner fuel alternatives. Chaired by the AA Motoring Trust, participating companies included motor manufacturers such as Vauxhall and Ford, fuel suppliers such as Shell, BP, Mobil Exxon, and Calor, and cleaner fleet operators such as Safeway.

All local authorities must monitor their local air quality for stated pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx), particulate matter (PM10) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) and, where limits are exceeded, take action by declaring an Air Quality Management Area or AQMA.

The LPG industry has recently submitted its argument to Government on extending the tax concession currently given to cleaner alternative road fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas and Gordon Brown is to announce his decision in the pre Budget Statement of 10 December.

The average NOx levels for each site and equivalent cigarettes for a 24 hour period were as follows:

Location

Ppb

mg/m3

Cigarette Equivalent

Aberdeen
Glasgow City Chambers
Glasgow Kerbside
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Leeds City Centre
Sheffield Centre
Sheffield Tinsley
Manchester Piccadilly
Manchester South
Manchester Town Hall
Nottingham
Leicester
Birmingham Centre
Birmingham East
Wolverhampton
Coventry Memorial Park
Cardiff
Bristol City Centre
Bath
Exeter Roadside
Oxford
Norwich Centre
Norwich Roadside
Plymouth
Southampton
Stoke on Trent
London, Marylebone Road
London, Kensington King’s Road
London, Hammersmith Broadway
London, Brent IKEA

24
49
150
25
36
43
48
39
17
34
35
30
30
28
32
17
31
48
82
49
108
19
31
22
36
27
55
52
48
47

45.84
93.59
286.5
47.75
68.76
82.13
91.68
74.49
32.47
64.94
66.85
57.30
57.30
53.48
61.12
32.47
59.21
91.68
156.62
93.59
206.28
36.29
59.21
42.02
68.76
51.57
105.16
99.32
91.68
89.77

13.4
14.6
44.7
14.0
20.3
24.4
27.1
22.1
9.5
19.1
19.7
17.0
17.0
15.8
18.2
9.5
17.6
27.1
46.8
27.7
61.4
10.7
17.6
12.5
20.3
15.2
30.0
29.6
27.3
26.7

 

Cigarette Index

The top 10 locations examined are therefore ranked as follows:

Location

NOx Cigarette Equivalent
in 24 Hours

Oxford
Bath
Glasgow – Kerbside
London, Marylebone Road
Kensington & Chelsea, King’s Road
Exeter
Hammersmith Broadway
Bristol – City Centre
Sheffield – Tinsley
Brent

61.4
46.8
44.7
30.0
29.6
27.7
27.3
27.1
27.1
26.7

 

Calculation

Calculation was based on taking the stated annual mean NOx level – the “ambient” level as an average – and translating this into the amount of NOx inhaled in that environment by an adult at rest – an average of 6 litres of air per minute.

This was then compared to a Rothman’s Light cigarette, which produces a stated 29mg of NOx to calculate how many minutes of breathing at that location, on average, would equate to one cigarette.

So, for Marylebone Road:

Average adult at rest breathes 6 litres of air per minute.

Stated annual mean for NOx is 105.16mg/m3 or 0.1ug per litre.
So 0.1 x 6 litres = 0.6mg of NOx is inhaled each minute.
To inhale the 29mg for one cigarette would be 29/0.6 = 48 minutes.
24 hours/48 minutes = 30 cigarettes.

For further information call Calor Autogas on 0800 992200

 

   
 

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