The latest map of dirty air reveals that almost all UK homes are exposed to air pollution with levels that are in excess of the guidelines set by the World Health Organization. In over 97% of these homes, toxic air levels are higher than the WHO limits for one of the three major pollutants, while approximately 70% do not follow the set limits.
Created by the Imperial College London and COPI or the Central Office of Public Interest, the map of dirty air came up with pollution estimates that covered every 20 metre-area in the country by putting together 20,000 measurements and computer modelling.
Additionally, residents have the convenience of checking out if their address is in a highly polluted area or not using the address pollution website. Addresses are ranked against national pollution levels, so if an address is in the 99th percentile, it is considered highly polluted while the address in the 5th percentile has significantly cleaner air.
According to the map, the cities and towns identified as having the greatest number of homes in the most polluted list include London (66%) and Slough (90%), along with Reading, Manchester, Leeds, and Portsmouth.
COPI founder Humphrey Miles said the property industry should start focusing on solutions that help fight toxic air. Air pollution does not choose who to affect; it affects everyone. Transparency is important, which is why COPI is urging lawmakers to allow the disclosure of air pollution data to home renters and buyers.
The World Health Organization recently adjusted its guideline limits for toxic air because of the numerous pieces of evidence that further confirm air pollution is dangerous to human health. In 2019, a review came out that indicated how harmful toxic air is – it can damage all the organs in the body. It has become a major public health emergency and environmental threat to human health.
Air pollution is a significant contributor to the estimated seven million premature deaths every year. Of the seven million, 40,000 happened in the UK, including the case of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah.
Ella and her mother, Rosamund, lived near South Circular Road in Lewisham, south London, a highly polluted area. She walked to school every day without knowing that she had been breathing high levels of toxic air. As a result, Ella was in and out of the hospital for several months.
In February 2013, Ella had a severe asthma attack and died of acute respiratory failure. An inquest on her death was requested and in December 2020, the coroner ruled the young girl’s death was caused by air pollution. Ella’s case was the first of its kind in the UK, and it won’t be the last.
The Dieselgate scandal
Emissions that come from vehicles are known as NOx or nitrogen oxide. Although NOx has been around for years, it was thrust into the limelight in 2015 when the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal broke.
The Dieselgate scandal initially involved only Volkswagen. In September 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Resources Board discovered that VW fitted their diesel vehicles with defeat devices. They sold these vehicles to American consumers.
A defeat device is programmed to detect when a vehicle is in the lab for regulatory testing. Once it does, it artificially reduces emissions to levels that are within the WHO limits.
However, when the vehicle is taken out and driven in real-world driving conditions, it makes the vehicle revert to its original settings and nitrogen oxides in excess of EU and WHO levels are released in massive amounts. As such, vehicles with defeat devices are heavy pollutants.
Aside from VW, other car manufacturers were also implicated in the scandal. Another German carmaker, Mercedes-Benz, was caught allegedly using defeat devices in their diesel vehicles. The Dieselgate Mercedes scandal first made waves in 2016 when American car owners decided to file a class-action lawsuit against the carmaker.
Nitrogen oxide is dangerous
NOx or nitrogen oxide, the gas that diesel vehicles emit, is harmful to the environment and human health. It affects vegetation and makes plants and crops susceptible to frost and their growth is stunted.
Nitrogen oxide is also responsible for the formation of smog, acid rain, and ground-level ozone (also known as bad ozone).
The most devastating effects of nitrogen oxide have to do with human health. Any person exposed to NOx can develop the following conditions or side effects:
- Breathing problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Asthma or aggravated asthma
- Corroded teeth
- Chronically reduced lung function
- Increased risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases
As mentioned earlier, exposure to nitrogen oxide can also lead to premature death.
Car owners who are affected by the diesel emissions scandal must file an emission compensation claim against their manufacturers. The compensation is a payment for all the financial burden, inconvenience, and environmental stress the scandal caused them.
How do I file my diesel claim?
This is a common question affected car owners ask, and it’s understandable because the diesel compensation process can be challenging and time-consuming. However, if you work with a panel of emissions solicitors, the process can be simpler.
Working with a panel of emissions solicitors means you are working with professionally-trained, highly experienced, and committed experts. They know how to make you win. Visit the ClaimExperts.co.uk website to find the panel of solicitors you need.