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Campaign For Clean Air

Thursday, May 15, 2014

GMB Calls For Action To Reduce Levels Of Noxious Pm10 Particles In Air And Action To Reduce Exposure For Street Cleaners, Refuse And Parking Staff

Localised monitoring has shown some areas with extremely high levels of pollutants so councils should do more to identify the areas and times of day and vulnerable people should also be helped to avoid these areas says GMB.

GMB, the union for street cleaners, refuse workers and parking staff, today publish a new study of official data on the mean average level of PM10 pollutants in the air measured so far for 2014 at 58 monitoring stations across the UK. The data is set out in the table below.

PM10s are noxious particles which irritate the airways and find their way deep down into the lungs causing breathing difficulties even in healthy people. Workers who work on the roadside such as street cleaners, refuse workers, parking staff and others are particularly exposed to such pollutants. GMB is calling for more localised monitoring and for action to further reduce exposures.

The European Union sets PM10 levels at 40ug/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) on average over a year, while the WHO guidelines put this lower, at 20ug/m3. See notes to editors for details of EU limits.

PM10 Particulate Matter (Hourly Measured) - Annual Mean from 1 Jan to 14th May 2014

Source: Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/)

Site Name

 Annual Mean

 

  Hourly measured PM10 µg/m3

 

 

 Aberdeen

16

 Armagh Roadside

20

 Auchencorth Moss

8

 Barnstaple A39

18

 Belfast Centre

16

 Birmingham Tyburn

18

 Birmingham Tyburn Roadside

19

 Bristol St Paul's

18

 Camden Kerbside

20

 Cardiff Centre

18

 Carlisle Roadside

15

 Chatham Roadside

22

 Chepstow A48

18

 Chesterfield

19

 Chesterfield Roadside

21

 Derry

18

 Eastbourne

21

 Edinburgh St Leonards

14

 Glasgow Kerbside

25

 Grangemouth

12

 Harwell

14

 Hull Freetown

15

 Leamington Spa

16

 Leeds Centre

18

 Leeds Headingley Kerbside

26

 Liverpool Speke

16

 London Bloomsbury

21

 London Harlington

21

 London Marylebone Road

29

 London N. Kensington

25

 Lough Navar

9

 Middlesbrough

18

 Narberth

15

 Newcastle Centre

14

 Newport

17

 Norwich Lakenfields

16

 Nottingham Centre

21

 Oxford St Ebbes

21

 Plymouth Centre

19

 Port Talbot Margam

29

 Portsmouth

23

 Reading New Town

16

 Rochester Stoke

20

 Salford Eccles

18

 Saltash Callington Road

18

 Sandy Roadside

19

 Scunthorpe Town

23

 Sheffield Devonshire Green

22

 Southampton Centre

22

 Southwark A2 Old Kent Road

21

 Stanford-le-Hope Roadside

22

 Stockton-on-Tees Eaglescliffe

16

 Stoke-on-Trent Centre

20

 Swansea Roadside

21

 Thurrock

20

 Warrington

16

 York Bootham

14

 York Fishergate

20

 

 

John McClean, GMB National Health, Safety and Environment, officer “This study shows that there are high levels of PM-10s in areas across the UK. Clean air should be a right, not a privilege.

Road transport is a major cause of air pollution. Exposure is attributed to thousands of deaths and new cases of asthma and bronchitis each year. The World Health Organisation states that there are no safe limits for these particles.

Government has to ban high polluting vehicles from our city centres. There is a need to look at the final mile delivery from business to business and to consumers in urban areas being reorganized to be done on a zero emission basis.

More has to be done to force all diesel vehicle manufacturers to fit particulate filters to their vehicles. The mistaken belief that diesel cars are ‘better’ for the environment has to be challenged. Diesel cars emit twenty two times more PM10s that petrol cars do.

Public transport must be made clean, reliable and affordable.

Councils must improve facilities for cyclists and employers should pay cycle allowances and other incentives to discourage car use.

Localised monitoring has shown some areas with extremely high levels of pollutants. So councils should do more monitoring to identify areas and times of day with high levels of pollutants. Doctor’s surgeries should have information on display making vulnerable people aware of these areas so that they can avoid them. Schools should advise parents and children of the routes to and from schools with the lowest levels of pollutants.

Contractors and councils should consider installing monitoring equipment on wagons and barrows. They should look at designing street cleaning and refuse collection routes to avoid the times in the areas with the highest levels of pollutants.” 

Ends 

Contact: Justin Bowden national officer for contractors on 07710 631351 or John McClean GMB 07710 631 329 or Dan Shears 07918 767781 or GMB press office 07921 289880 and 07974 251 823

Notes to editors

Air Quality Standards

Humans can be adversely affected by exposure to air pollutants in ambient air. In response, the European Union has developed an extensive body of legislation which establishes health based standards and objectives for a number of pollutants in air. These standards and objectives are summarised in the table below. These apply over differing periods of time because the observed health impacts associated with the various pollutants occur over different exposure times.

Pollutant

Concentration

Averaging period

Legal nature

Permitted exceedences each year

Fine particles (PM2.5)

25 µg/m3***

1 year

Target value entered into force 1.1.2010
Limit value enters into force 1.1.2015

n/a

Sulphur dioxide (SO2)

350 µg/m3

1 hour

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2005

24

125 µg/m3

24 hours

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2005

3

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

200 µg/m3

1 hour

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2010

18

40 µg/m3

1 year

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2010*

n/a

PM10

50 µg/m3

24 hours

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2005**

35

40 µg/m3

1 year

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2005**

n/a

Lead (Pb)

0.5 µg/m3

1 year

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2005 (or 1.1.2010 in the immediate vicinity of specific, notified industrial sources; and a 1.0 µg/m3 limit value applied from 1.1.2005 to 31.12.2009)

n/a

Carbon monoxide (CO)

10 mg/m3

Maximum daily 8 hour mean

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2005

n/a

Benzene

5 µg/m3

1 year

Limit value entered into force 1.1.2010**

n/a

Ozone

120 µg/m3

Maximum daily 8 hour mean

Target value entered into force 1.1.2010

25 days averaged over 3 years

Arsenic (As)

6 ng/m3

1 year

Target value enters into force 31.12.2012

n/a

Cadmium (Cd)

5 ng/m3

1 year

Target value enters into force 31.12.2012

n/a

Nickel (Ni)

20 ng/m3

1 year

Target value enters into force 31.12.2012

n/a

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

1 ng/m3
(expressed as concentration of Benzo(a)pyrene)

1 year

Target value enters into force 31.12.2012

n/a

*Under the new Directive the member State can apply for an extension of up to five years (i.e. maximum up to 2015) in a specific zone. Request is subject to assessment by the Commission. . In such cases within the time extension period the limit value applies at the level of the limit value + maximum margin of tolerance ( 48 µg/m3 for annual NO2 limit value).

**Under the new Directive the Member State was able to apply for an extension until three years after the date of entry into force of the new Directive (i.e. May 2011) in a specific zone. Request was subject to assessment by the Commission. In such cases within the time extension period the limit value applies at the level of the limit value + maximum margin of tolerance (35 days at 75µg/m3 for daily PM10 limit value, 48 µg/m3 for annual Pm10 limit value).

***Standard introduced by the new Directive.

Under EU law a limit value is legally binding from the date it enters into force subject to any exceedances permitted by the legislation. A target value is to be attained as far as possible by the attainment date and so is less strict than a limit value.

The new Directive is introducing additional PM2.5 objectives targetting the exposure of the population to fine particles. These objectives are set at the national level and are based on the average exposure indicator (AEI).

AEI is determined as a 3-year running annual mean PM2.5 concentration averaged over the selected monitoring stations in agglomerations and larger urban areas, set in urban background locations to best assess the PM2.5 exposure to the general population.

Title

Metric

Averaging period

Legal nature

Permitted exceedences each year

PM2.5
Exposure concentration obligation

20 µg/m3
(AEI)

Based on 3 year average

Legally binding in 2015 (years 2013,2014,2015)

n/a

PM2.5
Exposure reduction target

Percentage reduction*
+ all measures to reach 18 µg/m3
(AEI)

Based on 3 year average

Reduction to be attained where possible in 2020, determined on the basis of the value of exposure indicator in 2010

n/a

* Depending on the value of AEI in 2010, a percentage reduction requirement ( 0,10,15, or 20%) is set in the Directive. If AEI in 2010 is assessed to be over 22 µg/m3, all appropriate measures need to be taken to achieve 18 µg/m3 by 2020.

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