12th December 2019

New research shows no safe limit for air pollution

New research published in the British Medical Journal last month has shown that airborne emissions of fine carbon particles – known as PM2.5 – can have serious health impacts even when the level of concentration is below the World Health Organisation’s guideline limits.
PM2.5 emanates from fuel combustion and transport sources and is one of the major issues associated with airport expansion, not only because of the additional air pollution caused by the increased flights but also from the additional road traffic generated by the increase in passengers.
The results of the research confirm previously established associations between PM2.5 and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as Parkinson’s and diabetes. In addition, the study found evidence of health impacts not previously associated with PM2.5 including septicaemia, fluid and electrolyte disorders, as well as urinary and skin infections.
Stansted Airport is already a major source of PM2.5 air pollution and, in connection with its current planning application to increase its permitted annual throughput from 35 to 43 million passengers, the airport was required to provide a report on the projected pollution levels. This report showed that if its current planning application were to be approved, the airport would be responsible for putting 13.6 tonnes of fine carbon particles (PM2.5) into the air annually, 25% more pollution than today.
SSE Health Advisor, Professor Jangu Banatvala, commented “The paramount duty of Uttlesford District Council is to do everything possible to safeguard the health of its local residents. That includes protecting the air that we all have to breathe. In view of this new research it is inconceivable that our local council could permit any further airport expansion until such time as this can be achieved without increasing the risks to the health of the local population.”

Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport