New figures from the UK government estimate for the first time the number of deaths blamed on nitrogen dioxide gas, as well as tiny sooty particles. Taken together these boost the number of annual deaths across the whole of the UK from 29,000 to over 50,000.
Environmentalists estimate that this translates to at least 3,500 deaths a year in Scotland, compared to a previous estimate of 2,000. They also attack new Scottish Government proposals to tackle air pollution as “incomplete, vague and lacklustre”.
Air pollution from cars, vans, buses and lorries can trigger heart attacks, strokes and cause infections. The emissions aggravate lung diseases, and can worsen the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people with asthma.
The new estimates of deaths were prompted by a Supreme Court ruling in April requiring the UK government to take urgent action to tackle illegal levels of air pollution in cities. Last week both the UK and Scottish governments launched new public consultations on their plans.