Scores of Sunderland deaths linked to air pollution
New figures suggest that scores of deaths across Sunderland are linked to air pollution.
Research and policy institute Centre for Cities estimates that 115 deaths in the city – around one in 26 of the total in 2017 – included traces of deadly toxins PM2.5 such as dust, ash and soot as a contributory factor.
This compares to a figure of one in 16 similar deaths in areas further south such as Slough, Luton and London.
Centre for Cities, which compiled the figures using official Government data, also calculates that people living in the North East are 19 times more likely to die from long-term exposure to pollution than in a car crash.
It has now called on councils and the Government to do more to protect residents.
Chief executive Andrew Carter said: “Politicians often talk tough on addressing air pollution but we need to see more action.
“People in the North East 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.”
Sunderland City Council leader Coun Graeme Miller said: “We at this council are determined to do what we can on a local scale here in Sunderland to tackle this global issue.
“We are committed to being carbon neutral by 2030, 20 years ahead of the Government’s pledge of 2050 and to creating a ‘greener and cleaner’ living environment for all residents.
“We are promoting step changes in the uptake of low emission vehicles by setting more ambitious targets for charging points, as well as encouraging low emission fuels and electric cars.
“The council’s vehicle fleet is moving to cleaner and less polluting technology.
“We are working to boost investment in clean public transport, as well as more foot and cycle paths to improve health.”
A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said the Government is "stepping up the pace and taking urgent action" by investing £3.5 billion to tackle air pollution from transport, adding: "Our landmark Environment Bill will include a commitment to a legally binding target on fine particulate matter which will improve the health of millions of people."