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Harm Through Pollution

A study which investigates harm caused by air pollution rather than danger

In addition to the danger of collision with a motor vehicle, there is also a less direct harm from the pollution emitted by road traffic. To place the pollution from motor vehicles in context, let us first consider that “HSE's current estimate is that there are 6,000 occupational cancer deaths per year” (HSC 2006b: 8), and a further 4,000 deaths from “exposures to fumes, chemicals and dusts” (HSC 2006b: 8). Together, these two factors account for over 97% of work-related deaths (HSE 2006), so we can assume that there are approximately 10,000 industrial deaths per year in Great Britain.

In 1998 it was calculated that annually between 14,000 and 24,000 hospital admissions result from poor air quality, and that between 12,000 and 24,000 deaths may be “brought forward” each year in the UK because of air pollution (COMEAP 1998), to which road transport is by far the largest single contributor (FoE 1999, 1). In 2000 it was claimed that “Londoners are more likely to die from traffic pollution than in a road accident” (BBC 2000). It would appear that traffic-related pollution alone causes at least as many deaths as all combined sources of industrial pollution in all workplaces in Britain.

 

References

BBC. 2000. "Deadly threat of transport pollution". http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/968598.stm – accessed on 4th January 2007.

HSC (Health and Safety Commission). 2006b. Health and safety statistics 2005/06. Health and Safety Executive.

HSE. 2006. Comparisons of work-related illness and injuries statistics. http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/comparison.htm - accessed on 4th January 2007.

COMEAP (Great Britain Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants). January 1998. Holgate, S.T. And Ayres, J.G. (Eds). Quantification of the effects of air pollution on health in the United Kingdom. The Stationery Office.

FoE (Friends of the Earth). 1999. Road Transport, Air Pollution and Health. Briefing Paper.