Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts. It is recognised as a contributing factor in the onset of heart disease and cancer. Additionally, air pollution particularly affects the most vulnerable in society: children and older people, and those with heart and lung conditions. There is also often a strong correlation with equality issues, because areas with poor air quality are also often the less affluent areas. The annual health cost to society of the impacts of particulate matter alone in the UK is estimated to be around £16 billion.
Air quality in Exeter is affected by a small number of hot spots where levels of nitrogen dioxide are above government objectives. These are along the Heavitree corridor (at Livery Dole junction, Fore Street Heavitree, East Wonford Hill and Honiton Road), Alphington Street and the Blackboy Road/Pinhoe Road junction. All these are included within Exeter’s Air Quality Management Area, an area where the Council will bring forward and facilitate actions to improve air quality. In the majority of the city, outside these areas, pollution levels are below the government objectives.
Exeter is exploring ways that it can improve air quality in the city. We have a legal responsibility, but also a political desire to do more.