For the first time in years, air pollution levels in Scotland were well within the legal limits. This does not include the effects of the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns when the public had to stay home and road transport use dropped.
According to campaigners, the Low-Emission Zones (LEZ) in various cities in Scotland are responsible for the improved air quality. The most significant improvements were in Glasgow, where the Low-Emission Zone is already fully operational.
Environmental organisation Friends of the Earth Scotland examined 2022 air pollution data for Scotland and primarily focused on two specific dangerous road transport-caused pollutants. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits were set at 40 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) through the European Ambient Air Quality Directive. On the other hand, PM10 or particulate matter limit was set at 18 µg/m3 according to the Scottish annual statutory standard.
Across Scotland, some areas registered PM10 rates lower than the limit, particularly Renfrewshire’s Johnstone High Street, which had the lowest rate at 12.88. The highest rate, which is still below the toxic level, is 15.89 for Perth’s Atholl Street.
Hope Street in Glasgow previously had high toxic pollution numbers but recovered in 2022 with massive improvements. In 2019, the city’s Low-Emission Zone started and high-polluting buses were not allowed to enter. With the LEZ in full effect, high-polluting vehicles now have to follow emissions standards or they won’t be allowed into the zone.
To help owners, Scotland’s government gave out grants so older buses can be retrofitted with emissions-compliant engines. Grants were also given to those who needed to purchase new buses fit for the Low-Emission Zone.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s transport campaigner Gavin Thomson was elated to see progress and a clear improvement in the city’s most polluted areas. This allows residents to breathe cleaner air since the roads have fewer high-polluting buses and most of those they encounter are electric-powered ones.
Authorities and campaigners are hoping that the Low-Emissions Zones in Dundee, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen, which will be enforced by 2024, will also improve air quality in the said cities.
Other cities in Scotland continue to battle toxic pollution, especially those that do not have clear emissions policies and programs. Investments should be directed towards policies focused on improving air quality.
Asthma and Lung UK Scotland head Joseph Carter said that although keeping the air pollution levels within or lower than legal limits is good, there are still a lot of things that should be done. Toxic air has become the world’s biggest threat – both to the environment and public health – so finding solutions and creating stricter policies should be a national (and international) priority.
What are emissions and why are they dangerous?
Emissions are the substances released by vehicles due to internal combustion. There are three primary sources of vehicle emissions: crankcase ventilation, fuel system, and the car’s exhaust.
Vehicle emissions have several types but the most common are carbon monoxide or CO, particulate matter or PM, and NOx or nitrogen oxides. These pollutants cause dangerous health risks, including life-changing and life-threatening ones.
The most prominent emission in diesel vehicles is NOx, which became the subject of a global scandal that changed the automotive industry. The Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal saw the Volkswagen Group thrust into the spotlight after authorities in the US accused them of installing illegal defeat devices in their Audi and Volkswagen diesel vehicles sold in the American market.
A defeat device detects when a vehicle is being tested and once this happens, it manipulates emissions levels to within the legal limits announced by the World Health Organization (WHO). As a result, the vehicle passes emissions standards and is approved for sale.
The truth, however, is that the vehicle is emissions-compliant and safe only during testing. Once it is out and driven on real roads, it emits unlawfully high amounts of NOx. So, in reality, any vehicle with a defeat device is a dangerous pollutant.
Although the Volkswagen Group denied the allegations, they recalled hundreds of thousands of affected vehicles as ordered by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. They’ve also spent billions since 2015 in payoffs, including fines, fees, and compensation claims.
Other carmakers soon followed in VW’s footsteps. Some of those that possibly used illegal defeat devices include Mercedes-Benz, Renault, BMW, and Vauxhall. The list grows every year as more and more carmakers are discovered to have cheated customers.
Why should I file my diesel claim?
Lawyers, campaigners, and authorities all believe that carmakers should be held responsible for their actions. More than the lies and mis-selling, they exposed their customers to life-threatening NOx emissions.
NOx can cause major health impacts such as chronic lung function reduction, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and premature death. It also triggers depression and anxiety and can often cause dementia. Your life and those around you can be in danger once you are exposed to NOx. You should file a diesel claim against your carmaker.
It can be a long process, but you can work with emissions experts who can guide you through the emissions claim process. Before anything else, though, visit ClaimExperts.co.uk to verify your eligibility to file a claim. They’ll provide you with all the information you need so you can push through with your claim.