Millions of people in the UK are exposed to toxic air every day. People of all ages and from all walks of life can develop lung or respiratory conditions if they are regularly exposed to air pollution.
According to a document presented by Asthma UK and the BLF (British Lung Foundation), approximately six million residents in England aged 65 and older live in places with extremely high levels of toxic air, particularly PM2.5 or particulate matter. People can easily breathe in PM2.5 particles because of their size. These can travel down the lungs and to the bloodstream.
Even GPs, hospitals, and care homes are situated in places where air pollution is at levels that exceed WHO or World Health Organization-mandated limits. About 3,000 GPs and hospitals and more than 26% of care homes are exposed to polluted air.
Areas with high levels of air pollution in the UK include Oxford, London, Ewell, Epsom, Birmingham, Sandwell, Bristol, Coventry, Leicester, Swindon, Liverpool, and South Gloucestershire.
Many UK residents are now more susceptible to asthma attacks, breathing problems, and COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease flare-ups. These flare-ups and lung problems are all triggered by the polluted air around them.
There is no safe level for PM2.5 or toxic pollutants; even the lowest levels of emissions are still harmful. The WHO has set the safe and legal levels of PM2.5 at 10μg/m3 while the UK has set its PM2.5 levels to 20μg/m3, which is double the limit regulated by the WHO.
Researchers gathered PM2.5 data from 2019.
The residents speak up
North London resident Catherine Bazell is suffering from bronchiectasis and asthma and has been living in London since she was a child. According to her, even if she wasn’t exposed to burning coals in her younger years, she couldn’t escape emissions coming from vehicles. Every time she walks home, Catherine feels like she cannot breathe well and she’s always gasping for air.
Several years ago, Catherine had shortness of breath and palpitations and had to be taken to the hospital. She even suffered two minor strokes. She believes exposure to air pollution had a big role in her getting sick.
Another resident, Eastbourne resident Kimberlee Cole, has sensitive lungs that she claims allow her to determine how polluted an area or place is when she breathes in the air. Her lungs get irritated every time the particulate count is high. When this happens, she can cough for hours and her lungs can also bleed.
Like Catherine, Eastbourne also has bronchiectasis.
Aughton, West Lancashire resident Leon, who is 73 years old, has COPD and stays at home most of the time. If he goes out, he’ll have difficulty breathing, especially when traffic is heavy. His lungs easily react to petrol and diesel fumes, so opening just a small portion of the window or peeking outside will already be scary for him. Aside from breathing difficulties, he’d also often end up coughing, which sometimes devolves into choking.
Leon admits it makes him feel isolated and some members of his family can notice that breathing is a struggle for him. For him, authorities and the government should help people learn and understand more about the different sources of air pollution, especially vehicle fumes.
Asthma UK and other environmental groups and campaigners are clamouring for the government to implement stricter measures for reducing air pollution. They also opine that it’s important to provide the public with information about the health and environmental impacts of air pollution.
Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal
The Dieselgate scandal broke in September 2015 after US authorities found defeat devices inside Audi and Volkswagen vehicles sold to American consumers. The Volkswagen Group initially denied the allegations but they eventually admitted to knowing about the devices, which are used to cheat emissions tests.
A defeat device is used to track when a vehicle is being tested so it could manipulate emissions and keep them below the WHO-mandated limits. While the vehicle appears clean and safe to authorities, it’s a completely different story when it is taken out and driven on real roads. It switches back to its default settings and the vehicle reverts to releasing voluminous amounts of nitrogen oxide or NOx. These emissions are multiple times over EU and WHO limits. The vehicle is a pollutant and carmakers deliberately lied to their customers when they sold the vehicle.
Other car manufacturers were also implicated in the Dieselgate scandal, including Mercedes-Benz, which even illegally colluded with an emissions cartel meant to delay the deployment of technology for reducing emissions.
The Mercedes diesel emissions scandal reached the UK and European shores a few years later and the number of affected drivers has increased year after year.
VW, Mercedes, and all the other carmakers involved in the scandal should be held responsible for their actions. NOx emissions have adverse effects on the environment and can be life-threatening to humans. Among its health impacts are cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung function reduction, and premature death.
Bring a diesel claim against your manufacturer
Bringing a diesel claim against your carmaker will give you the chance to earn compensation for the stress and inconvenience they caused you. Before filing, though, you have to verify your eligibility to make a diesel emissions claim. Visit the Emissions.co.uk website to check your eligibility.