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Up to 100,000 deaths from air pollution over next 20 years - Baker

July 30, 2004 12:00 AM

Industrial chimney pollution (smoke).As the weather hots up across Britain this weekend, the Liberal Democrats are warning of the increasing risk of air pollution due to rising levels of ozone in the summer air.

New figures released today reveal that ozone, a major air pollutant, is exceeding dangerous levels and is expected to result in an additional 490 deaths per year if current trends continue.

Last year's summer heatwave led to a dramatic increase in ozone pollution, causing an estimated additional 600 deaths. Analysis of official figures reveals that this was not a freak occurrence.

By 2065, a 'High' risk to health could be happening 'on average' - while on some days ozone concentration could far exceed these already dangerous levels

At this rate of increase, ozone pollution could kill an additional 490 people in cities year on year - over 100,000 additional deaths over the next 20 years.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, Norman Baker MP,

"These figures are a stark illustration the government's failure to take air pollution and climate change seriously. This is not something that will happen in the distant future, it is already having terrible effects on individual health.

"The spate of unusually hot summers is taking its toll on air quality. If global warming and the rise in vehicle emissions are allowed to continue unchallenged, the situation will only get worse.

"Urgent action is needed to reduce the causes of ozone pollution and to safeguard people's health with sustainable transport and energy policies.

"There is also deeply worrying evidence that air pollution produced by American vehicles is being blown across to Britain. The Government has a duty to put pressure on the US to review its environmental policies and work towards global solutions."