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Air pollution causes one in 16 deaths in Havering, report finds

09:14 11 April 2014

Heavy traffic contributes to air pollution.

Heavy traffic contributes to air pollution.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Air pollution causes a staggering one in 16 deaths in Havering and is knocking years off residents’ life expectancy.

Recent findings have exposed dangerously high levels of toxic pollutants in the borough, especially along Hornchurch Road, the M25, Upper Rainham Road, Ferry Lane and Eastern Road.

But research by Public Health England (PHE) has revealed its impact locally for the first time.

A report by the authority estimated that long-term exposure to particulates – fine particles of dust and fuel that get into the lungs – caused 6.3 per cent of deaths in Havering.

Its effects have cut the lives of residents short by more than 1,300 years combined, it said.

Exposure can lead to heart and respiratory conditions including heart attacks and bronchitis.

Short-term effects in extreme conditions, like last week’s “smog” caused by Saharan dust, include asthma attacks, deaths and increased hospital admissions.

Although air quality has improved considerably in the UK in recent decades due to new laws and cleaner technology, PHE is calling for urgent action.

Dr Paul Cosford, director of health protection, said: “Local authorities could consider other measures to improve air quality, such as implementing low emission strategies as well as the appropriate design of green spaces.”

Pollution is causing the most deaths in central London, and the least in more remote areas like the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, the report said.

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