Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton and Hove has made an appeal this week for more to be done about the ignored issue of pollution in the UK. She condemned the government for continued inaction, despite a law suit being filed against us by the Europ ean Commission. Lucas revealed we are in the midst of a hidden health crisis with 1000s of immature deaths happening each year as a result of pollution. Health problems include asthma, lung capacity reduction and heart attacks. Professor Frank Kelly of the environmental research group in King’s College London has reinforced her claims, stating that that 3000 people died from pollution in 2008 and an average individual’s life will be shortened by 3 years.
While the main focus of Lucas‘ concern was with vehicle emissions, The British Lung Foundation has warned that while car fumes may seem the most obvious source of pollution, there are also other dangers of which we are not so aware. One such danger is that posed by emissions from fossil fuel power stations, especially coal. Currently 2 thirds of our electricity in the UK comes from coal and gas power and there are 19 coal power stations in the UK.
The main pollutant is carbon dioxide, a dangerous greenhouse gas causing global warming, with thousands of tons pumped into the atmosphere each year from coal power stations. A further problem is the release of sulphur dioxide an acid pollutant which forms ‘acid air’ which when breathed in causes a narrowing of the airways, wheezing and coughing. It is especially dangerous for asthmatics and young children. When S02 subsequently falls as acid rain it can then be very harmful for plants and trees. Not only is the pollution caused by emissions from the power stations a problem but further emissions are caused from lorries delivering the coal and there are severe health hazards to coal miners including emphysema and black lung disease, or pneumoconiosis.
While to cut vehicle emissions we are urged to cut back on the use of our cars, is it possible for individuals to take action and cut back on the use of fossil fuel power stations? Find out if you are eligible for free solar panels and you can significantly cut your fuel bills as well.