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Toxic air pollution kills five people per week in Bristol

Bristol currently has illegal levels of air pollution

Five people are dying in Bristol each week in air pollution related deaths, according to a report by King's College London.

The pollutant, composing of fine particulates (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide, is produced through the burning of wood and coal and the continued use of older vehicles, particularly diesel cars. The levels of air pollution in Bristol are currently illegal.

Scientists have calculated that the combination of these pollutants is responsible for the deaths of 260 people every year in Bristol and could cause a further 36,000 deaths across the UK each year.

It has been found to contribute to illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease and potentially leading to lung cancer and diabetes. Illnesses relating to air pollution have amounted to £170 million in health costs in Bristol. Nationally, this level could amount to £5.56 billion, according to Public Health England.

The release of this research comes just a week after Bristol City Council pledged to ban all diesel cars by 2021, in a move to reduce CO2 levels within the city.

The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, stated: "We have a moral, we have an ecological and we have a legal duty to clean up the air we breathe.

"This research emphasises how vital it is that we act quickly to improve health and save lives in Bristol."

Bristol has a higher level of the PM2.5 pollutant than Liverpool and Greater Manchester, but with fewer death rates due to the smaller population.

David Dajnak, a key scientist from the report, said: “This report shows that more needs to be done to address the level of threat air pollution poses to health in Bristol."

He also stated that the issue of pollution and air quality is not just a concern for the environment, but also an issue of racial marginalisation within the city. "It highlights that the highest level of air pollution in Bristol coincides with zones of exceptional population growth and areas having the highest black and minority ethnic population.”

The report has been published just a week before Bristol Council chairs a meeting on air pollution, expected to take place on the 25th November 2019.