One in 18 deaths in Ipswich linked to pollution, figures reveal
- Credit: Gregg Brown
More than one in 18 deaths in the East of England’s largest cities and towns are related to long term exposure to air pollution, a new study has revealed.
The new figures show that in the East, an estimated 726 deaths were related to pollution in 2017 - 28 times the rate of deaths from traffic incidents.
Ipswich was the second worst town in the region with 68 deaths, or 5.7% of the total deaths linked to PM2.5, a specific particulate produced by a number of man made contributors, significantly transport.
Long-term exposure to PM2.5 is understood to increase age-specific mortality risk, particularly from cardiovascular causes.
Phil Smart, portfolio holder for the environment and climate change at Ipswich Borough Council, said: "We are doing what we can with the limited legislative tools available to us and within our limited budget.
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"We would encourage people who live on bus routes to use the bus wherever possible.
"We also have some attractive parks for those able to walk into town, which is also good for health and cycling is an option.
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"However, we know that the majority of car journeys in Ipswich are made by people who live outside the town and for whom these options are not available. Unfortunately there are few bus services available beyond the borough boundary and provision of these would rest with Suffolk County Council."
However, Conservative councillor Ian Fisher said the council needs to do more to tempt residents to use public transport.
He said: "We need to promote a modal shift away from private cars to public transport.
"Councils must take the lead but raising public awareness is key to this whole strategy.
"The more informed people are the better the choices that will be made, which may just create the modal shift that is needed."
In Essex, Colchester saw 88 deaths in relation to pollution in 2017 the same as 5.5% of their total deaths.
Mike Lilley, portfolio holder for communities, wellbeing and public safety at Colchester Borough Council, said: "We are looking at a number of options to tackle the problem of pollution including a tree planting program, reduce license fees for electric taxis and pedestrianising the high street. Frustratingly all of these take time and money."
Councillor Martin Gross added: "We are also working on stopping people sitting in their idle cars in traffic.
"That's the biggest killer. Our message is turn it off."
Independent urban policy research group Centre for Cities took the opportunity to call for more to be done by the government and local communities to protect the health of those living in cities.
Andrew Carter, chief executive, said: "More than half of people in the UK live in cities and large towns.
"And while they offer people good employment and lifestyle opportunities Cities Outlook 2020 shows that they also having a damaging effect on their health.
"Politicians often talk tough on addressing air pollution but we need to see more action.
"People in the East of England should be at the centre of the fight against its toxic air and councils should take the steps needed, including charging people to drive in city centres and banning wood burning stoves."