GMB Experts in the World of Work
Join GMB today
 Follow @GMB_union

GMB Congress Campaigns For Clean Air

Saturday, June 7, 2014

GMB Congress Calls For Reduction In Nitrogen Dioxide In Air And Action To Cut Exposure For Street Cleaners, Refuse And Parking Staff

Local 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 and should also be made aware of these areas says GMB.

GMB Congress, which started today 8th June in Nottingham, considered a new study of official data on the mean average level of Nitrogen Dioxide NO2 pollutants in the air measured at 110 monitoring stations across the UK from 1st Jan till 4th June 2014. The data for the 110 stations is set out in the table below. It is the air pollution measurements at a range of different locations; some are at the roadside, whilst others are at background locations or in rural areas.

The European Union sets NO2 levels at 40ug/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) on average over a year. See notes to editors for details of EU limits.

Congress was told that the safe limit is exceeded at seven locations in London. These are Bloomsbury, Camden, Haringey, Hillingdon, Tower Hamlets, Marylebone Road, and Westminster. The limit is also exceeded at eight locations in rest of UK. These are Aberdeen Union Street, Bath, Cambridge, Chepstow A48, Glasgow, Headingley in Leeds, in Tyburn in Birmingham and Oxford Centre. At Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds Centre the levels are very near the safe limit. See table below for exposure levels for from 1st Jan till 4th June 2014.

GMB members working on the roadside such as street cleaners, refuse workers, parking staff and others are particularly exposed to such pollutants. GMB is calling for more local monitoring and for action to further reduce exposures.

Nitrogen dioxide has a variety of environmental and health impacts. It is a respiratory irritant which may exacerbate asthma and possibly increase susceptibility to infections. These gases irritate the airways of the lungs, increasing the symptoms of those suffering from lung diseases. In the presence of sunlight, it reacts with hydrocarbons to produce photochemical pollutants such as ozone. NO2 can be further oxidised in air to acidic gases, which contribute towards the generation of acid rain.

Nitrogen Dioxide - Annual Mean 2014

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 Annual Mean

 

 

  Hourly measured NO2 µg/m3

 

 

 

Urban Background sites

 

 

Aberdeen

20

 

Barnsley Gawber

21

 

Belfast Centre

31

 

Birmingham Acocks Green

35

 

Birmingham Tyburn

29

 

Blackpool Marton

16

 

Bournemouth

12

 

Brighton Preston Park

15

 

Bristol St Paul's

29

 

Canterbury

12

 

Cardiff Centre

28

 

Chesterfield

30

 

Coventry Memorial Park

20

 

Cwmbran

14

 

Derry

14

 

Eastbourne

11

 

Edinburgh St Leonards

18

 

Glasgow Townhead

27

 

Honiton

9

 

Hull Freetown

29

 

Leamington Spa

21

 

Leeds Centre

38

 

Leicester University

27

 

London Bloomsbury

51

 

London Haringey Priory Park South

28

 

London Hillingdon

64

 

London N. Kensington

33

 

London Teddington

12.3

 

London Westminster

42

 

Manchester Piccadilly

39

 

Newcastle Centre

33

 

Newport

23

 

Northampton Kingsthorpe

16

 

Norwich Lakenfields

15

 

Nottingham Centre

35

 

Oxford St Ebbes

16

 

Peebles

7

 

Plymouth Centre

22

 

Portsmouth

21

 

Preston

26

 

Reading New Town

28

 

Sheffield Devonshire Green

30

 

Sheffield Tinsley

32

 

Southampton Centre

35

 

Southend-on-Sea

21

 

Stoke-on-Trent Centre

29

 

Sunderland Silksworth

16

 

Thurrock

26

 

Walsall Woodlands

25

 

Wigan Centre

24

 

Wirral Tranmere

34

 

 

 

Urban Traffic sites

 

 

Aberdeen Union Street Roadside

46

 

Armagh Roadside

27

 

Bath Roadside

56

 

Birmingham Tyburn Roadside

45

 

Cambridge Roadside

41

 

Camden Kerbside

67

 

Carlisle Roadside

25

 

Chatham Roadside

25

 

Chepstow A48

43

 

Chesterfield Roadside

19

 

Dumbarton Roadside

15

 

Dumfries

27

 

Exeter Roadside

29

 

Glasgow Kerbside

70

 

Haringey Roadside

43

 

Inverness

20

 

Leamington Spa Rugby Road

20

 

Leeds Headingley Kerbside

45

 

Lincoln Canwick Rd.

36

 

Liverpool Queen's Drive Roadside

31

 

London Marylebone Road

82

 

Oxford Centre Roadside

49

 

Sandy Roadside

29

 

Southwark A2 Old Kent Road

36

 

Stanford-le-Hope Roadside

25

 

Stockton-on-Tees Eaglescliffe

16

 

Swansea Roadside

32

 

Tower Hamlets Roadside

58

 

Wrexham

20

 

York Fishergate

26

 

 

 

Urban Industrial sites

 

 

Billingham

22

 

Grangemouth

15

 

Grangemouth Moray

14

 

London Harlington

33

 

Middlesbrough

18

 

Port Talbot Margam

18

 

Salford Eccles

29

 

Scunthorpe Town

43

 

Warrington

19

 

 

 

Rural Background sites

 

 

Aston Hill

5.1

 

Bush Estate

7.9

 

Charlton Mackrell

6.4

 

Eskdalemuir

2.3

 

Glazebury

11.8

 

Harwell

7.7

 

High Muffles

6.1

 

Ladybower

12

 

Lullington Heath

6.5

 

Market Harborough

18

 

Narberth

6.6

 

Rochester Stoke

14.6

 

St Osyth

14.1

 

Wicken Fen

9.1

 

Yarner Wood

4.3

 

 

 

Suburban Background sites

 

 

Fort William

11

 

Leominster

8

 

London Bexley

26

 

London Eltham

23

 

 

 

Suburban Industrial sites

 

 

Horley

23

 

Manchester South

20

 

 

 

John McClean, GMB National Health, Safety and Environment officer, speaking in Nottingham said “These figures on nitrogen dioxide confirm the urgent for better air quality monitoring in urban and built up areas. Clean air should be a right, not a privilege.

Road transport is a major cause of air pollution. Even though engine technology is improving, these exposure levels are still dangerously high, and place workers and the public at increased risk of respiratory diseases.

We reiterate our call for high polluting vehicles to be banned from city centres, and for local authorities to take immediate action in priority areas such as near schools, hospitals and GP surgeries.

Waiting for technology to reduce emissions is not an acceptable response. GMB calls for action now.

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. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this page
+1