fumes from vehicles

Pollutionwatch: let’s rate exhaust fumes as also a lethal road risk

Vision Zero is a plan that rejects road accident deaths as ‘acceptable’. Is it time we called for zero tolerance of deaths from traffic pollution?

— The programme Vision Zero refuses to view the continued deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents as an acceptable fact. Like safety in the workplace, risks need to be designed out of road systems, it says. The initiative, which began in Sweden in 1994, founded by the government and industries, is gaining ground with cities in the UK and globally.

But, if we reject the acceptability of deaths and injuries in road accidents why should we tolerate those from traffic pollution?

fumes from vehicles
It is estimated that walking and cycling over two and a half miles a day instead of driving could save the NHS £17bn over 20 years. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Scientists in Malmö, Sweden, have worked out that between seven and 11 times more people are killed by traffic exhaust in the city than by road accidents. Zero exhaust would save between 55 and 93 early deaths in Malmö each year.

Replacing diesel and petrol vehicles with electric would still leave particle pollution from tyres and road wear. But air pollution could be cut further by lessening the traffic. Walking and cycling, instead of driving, would yield massive benefits in the battle against diseases such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

If we each swapped an average of two and a half miles of car travel a day for walking or cycling instead it would save the National Health Service £17bn over 20 years. It’s time for Air Pollution Zero too.

by Gary Fuller | The Guardian