Concerned about Air Quality on and around Carrington Moss?
Especially as the ONLY commitment in the GMSF and the GM Transport Strategy 2040 for this area is a new road. A new town is being planned, yet no trams, no commitments to additional bus services (everything but the new road is subject to business cases and funding).
Given the size of the industrial and warehousing area (planned to cover the remaining brownfield site in Carrington), we have estimated that the road will be used by between 400 and 600 lorries per day (24×7 – based on estimates from previous planning applications for this site). Add to this the 20,000 plus cars which will be needed by those living in the new homes to be built (because there will be insufficient public transport) and the induced through traffic……..
… the impact on our air quality will be phenomenal!!!
As there is no monitoring of the air pollution in this area by Trafford, despite its proximity to the M60 and the airport flight path, the Friends of Carrington Moss Committee began our own monitoring on 1st June, to provide baseline figures before any new road(s) or housing developments are built. This will increase our knowledge of the environmental impacts effecting the area and we took the opportunity to catch up with local subject matter experts, Peter Bagnall of the Breathe Clean Air group and Sue Huyton of the Clean Air Parents group. Here is what they told us.
FOCM: Hey Peter, which air pollutants should we be measuring?
Peter: Well there are a number we could measure in addition to the Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) that you have started to monitor. I’d be happy to come along and measure very small Particulate Matter (PM2.5), the Air Quality Index (AQI) and Carbon Monoxide (CO2) on a regular basis. That will help you to build up a picture of the current baseline in terms of Air Quality in the area.
FOCM: So, we have started to monitor Nitrogen Dioxide, what is it and what does it do?
Peter: NO2 is part of a group of gaseous air pollutants emitted by road traffic and other fossil fuel combustion processes. In the air it contributes to the formation of other pollutants such as Ozone, Particulate Matter and Acid Rain and it damages your health by causing reduced life expectancy, chronic respiratory issues and cardiovascular problems. It has also been linked with depression, anxiety, autism, dementia, cancer and birth defects, to name just a few other conditions.
FOCM: Are the other pollutants just as dangerous?
Peter: Particulate Matter in the air with a diameter of 2.5 micrograms or less (PM2.5) is considered to be the most hazardous pollutant to human health. It is also emitted from diesel engines and the combustion processes. It is carcinogenic and can be absorbed into the bloodstream by the lungs. TMBC do not monitor PM2.5 anywhere in Trafford and the nearest site that does is the DEFRA automatic site in Eccles (https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/data-plot?site_id=ECCL&days=7).
FOCM: We put up our first diffusion tubes on 1st June to measure the NO2 in this area, tell us about the process.
Peter: It can get a bit technical but in essence, the diffusion tube is a passive sampler which measures the pollutants in the air. The results are provided by specialised laboratories who use Government regulated methods. For those who are interested in more detail, it is a plastic tube containing a chemical reagent to absorb the pollutant to be measured directly from the air (they are also known as Palmes-type nitrogen dioxide diffusion tubes). The absorbent used is triethanolamine (Tea Water). Stainless steel grids at the closed end of the tube are coated with a water based solution of this absorbent. Diffusion tubes are classed as an “indicative” monitoring technique and can carry as much as 25% uncertainty compared to the Automatic Ambient Monitoring apparatus which uses the Chemiluminescence method as employed by DEFRA and local Councils. When we come to recording your results, we will take this bias into account in the reporting.
FOCM: Are there any legal limits for gases like NO2?
Peter: Yes, the legal limit for this is currently 40 ug/m3 (that means 40 micrograms per cubic metre). It should be noted that, although 40 ug/m3 is the legal limit, NO2 is a poisonous gas and this is not the same as saying this is a safe level! That said, the UK must meet this limit and there have been several successful legal proceedings (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43141467). In addition, ClientEarth has slammed ministers for letting deadlines pass unpunished, calling the situation a ‘moral failure’ from politicians at all levels. Client Earth recently issued a warning to UK Local Authorities to finalise their air quality plans or face legal action (https://airqualitynews.com/2019/03/26/clientearth-warn-councils-to-finalise-air-quality-plans-or-face-legal-action/).
FOCM: Are there any current legal claims related to the health effects of Air Pollution?
Peter: There have been many cases related to air pollution and the damage it causes to human health. They have previously been about stopping incinerators and biomass plants being built. There is currently a case in the London Inquest Courts relating to a young child named Ella Kissi-Debra who died as a result of an Asthma attack caused by regular exposure to air pollution. This is still on-going and, due to more information becoming available, the courts have awarded a new inquest https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-48132490.
Other countries are also facing legal action as a consequence of the impact of air pollution on their residents’ health https://www.france24.com/en/20190528-mother-daughter-sue-france-over-ill-health-air-pollution.
FOCM: And Sue, tell us about the Clean Air Parents Network, it sounds like a fantastic initiative, what are your key activities?
Sue: The Clean Air Parents’ Network was established just over a year ago to connect parents, carers, grandparents, who are concerned about how air quality impacts their children’s health now and in the future. Poor air quality has a greater impact on children’s lungs. They breathe faster and are more active, taking in proportionally more toxic air which can cause asthma and stunt lung development , contributing to the long term conditions that Peter refers to when they become adults. We connect parents on a number of levels, within City regions (my main focus is Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham), this can be existing clean air parent groups, helping to set up new groups or linking individuals campaigning on their own! We also connect people from across the country to each other, so there can be shared learning and support. Ultimately though, we want to get parents involved in campaigning to clean up the dirty air. This can be locally, regional or nationally. We focus on getting the dirtiest vehicles of the most polluted roads primarily and that’s why my work focuses on areas that have been mandated by the Government in their drive to introduce Clean Air Zones.
FOCM: It would be great to work with both yourself and Peter going forward – there is lots to do isn’t there?
Sue: There certainly is. Where I think the way we can work together is for me to promote your campaign to our local members, provide some information and expertise around air quality. We can also provide links to other organisations that could do more locally based work and bring in the wider British Lung Foundation (BLF) and Client Earth (CE) knowledge base and connections. The Clean Air Parents’ Network is a partnership between BLF and CE, so we are close to the national policy makers and influencers.
FOCM: It is all very topical at the moment, are you managing to influence decisions at a national level?
Sue: Our influence can be local, regional and/or national. We want to have a huge number of parents to demand that Government complies with the law on air quality and adequately funds local authorities to implement robust enough measures to do this.
FOCM: Fantastic, what’s next?
Sue: Well, here are the details of some events we are running in Trafford in June:
Come and join members of the Clean Air Parents’ Network from Trafford for a free screening of the film “Fighting for Air”, followed by a Q&A session with panellists from health and the environment, including:
– Eleanor Roaf, Acting Director of Public Health, Trafford Council
– Dr Patrick Carrington, Consultant Haematologist, Trafford General Hospital, University of Manchester Hospital Trust.
– Transport for Greater Manchester (tbc)
– Chair, Sue Huyton British Lung Foundation and Clean Air Parents’ Network
Learn more about air quality in Trafford, how it impacts your children’s health, and what we can do locally and nationally for clean air for our children to breathe with healthy lungs.
o Altrincham Event (18th June): https://altrinchamcleanairparentsnetwork.eventbrite.co.uk
o Wellacre Event (27th June): https://m41cleanairparentsnetwork.eventbrite.co.uk
FOCM: Where can people get more information?
Sue: Have a look at our website and sign up to our network for regular updates and opportunities (www.cleanairparents.org.uk). We are also on facebook @Clean Air Parents’ Network.
Well it was fascinating to talk to Sue and Peter, they both have so much expertise and knowledge that we know will be useful as we move forward. In the meantime, we’ve been doing a little research of our own and we think the Human Rights Act needs to be updated to be more specific. We’ll be campaigning on this in the coming months.
Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998 is the Right to Life and this already requires public authorities to “consider your right to life when making decisions that might put you in danger or that affect your life expectancy”. So, based on the evidence now available which shows the impact on human life expectancy from air pollution, it can be concluded that constructing new roads across Carrington Moss will impact the Human Rights of those whose health (and life expectancy) will be affected!
We call on Trafford to revisit this plan!
Want more information? Visit the following websites:
https://www.trafford.gov.uk/residents/environment/pollution/air-quality/air-quality.aspx – for information, local authorities are required submit a single Annual Status Report relating to air quality each year (by 30 June).