Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Brent children need clean air NOW!

Dr Ian Mudway addressing the meeting

A packed meeting held at Queens Park Community School last week (Tuesday 12 November) heard from experts and campaigners how severely our children’s health is being affected by air pollution, and what should happen now to stop it.

Over 60 parents and campaigners from across Brent came together to hear Dr Ian Mudway, a respiratory disease specialist at King’s College London, explain how children’s lungs are damaged by daily exposure to diesel emissions, even when they don’t display any apparent symptoms.  Dr Mudway, a global expert on the subject, said:
I now believe that there’s no doubt that children who grow up in polluted areas have stunted lung development. Their lungs don’t develop properly. We’re seeing that in our children in Tower Hamlets and Hackney. Their lungs at the age of nine were already smaller than they ought to be. And that’s a burden that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives.
The meeting also heard from Rosamund Kissi-Debrah.  She became a passionate campaigner after her daughter Ella, who had a rare and severe form of asthma, died in 2013.  She was nine years old.  The pathologist who carried out her post mortem said it was “one of the worst cases of asthma ever recorded in the UK”. The family were living next to the South Circular road at the time. 

Rosamund said:
It is unacceptable that children in Britain today die from asthma. There are 240,000 under-19s with a diagnosis of asthma in London.  Government and local authorities are not taking strong enough action…there needs to be new Clean Air Act.  Air pollution is related to many other diseases as well, costing the NHS millions each year to treat…My daughter suffered terribly, and hopefully her death will not be wasted.
In May 2019 Ella’s inquest was re-opened, to determine whether "unlawfully high levels of air pollution" were partially the cause of her death. Air pollution has never previously been officially recorded on an individual's death certificate.

Cllr Krupa Sheth, Cabinet Member for the Environment at Brent Council, attended to outline various Council initiatives to combat air pollution including measures to increase awareness about the dangers of idling, and a piloting of School Streets.   She said that “air quality has become a high priority in the council.”

Cllr Thomas Stephens who is currently chairing a Scrutiny Committee Air Quality Task Group said:
Air pollution is an invisible killer.  It’s hard to persuade people to take action when you cannot see it.  For example there’s a perception that people are safer inside a car, when this is not the case. We need to do a lot and need to do it quickly.
Mark Falcon, Chair of Clean Air for Brent, which is taking part in the Air Quality Task Group said:

Brent contains 4 out of 10 of London’s most polluted roads (1).  We believe the time has come for traffic control measures in the worst pollution hotspots, particularly those near schools. We urge Brent Council and Transport for London to take bold action now to protect our children’s health.

1 comment:

Philip Grant said...

If Brent Council are serious in saying that “air quality has become a high priority in the council", they will find a way of reversing their perverse decision to allow a new primary school to be built on the York House car park!

They had previously agreed that the site on which Quintain would build a school, as part of their redevelopment of Wembley Park, would be in the Watkin Road area, away from the busiest roads.

Quintain should now be asked to amend the revised Wembley Park Masterplan, which the Council agreed in 2016/17, and provide a site for the promised school close to the northern end of the seven acre park that they are meant to be delivering. This would be within reasonable walking distance of public transport, along mainly pedestrianised routes, so a lot healthier for the children who would attend the school.