Luton named worst blackspot for air pollution deaths in East of England

Luton has the highest number of deaths from air pollution in the East of England, a new study has found.

By Stewart Carr
Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 5:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 5:58 pm

More than one in 18 deaths in the town are related to long term exposure to air pollution, according to new estimates in Centre for Cities’ annual study of the UK’s major urban areas.

The proportion of deaths related to the deadly toxin PM2.5 were reported to be highest in Luton, with the latest data linking it to 93 deaths in just one year.

The figure equates to 6.2% of all adult deaths in the town.

Air pollution in Luton is reportedly the worst in the East of England

In total, an estimated 726 people were killed by PM2.5-related deaths in the East of England’s large cities and towns in just one year. At 5.6%, the proportion of deaths linked to PM2.5 in the East of England’s large cities and towns exceeds the national urban average of 5.2%.

Norwich has the smallest proportion of deaths related to PM2.5 the East of England at 130 – or 5.1% of all adult deaths in the city.

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: "“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."

Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing & environment at Luton Borough Council, said: “The council’s executive has, as part of its climate change agenda, already asked for urgent work to be done on air quality in Luton and we continually strive to improve in this area for the wellbeing of people of the town.

"Mortality rates in different areas are affected by a wide variety of factors, including air quality, and Public Health England advises against making simple comparisons between locations.

"Nevertheless we accept we must do more to decrease the impact of air pollutants, which is one of a number of significant factors affecting mortality rates in Luton.

“Air pollution levels in Luton are constantly monitored and we have recently published our Luton Town Centre Air Quality Action Plan which outlines a number of key actions aimed at reducing pollution in that area.

"We are currently working on an Air Quality strategy that covers the whole town, which we hope to be able to finalise in 2020.

“We have already been tackling the issue in a number of ways, such as the implementation of improved traffic management schemes across the town, designed to reduce pollution through alleviating traffic congestion.

"Planned measures include encouraging a greater use of electric and low emission vehicles, encouraging planting more trees/shrubs and sustainable construction in order to reduce pollution, and implementing sustainable travel plans for town centre businesses."