New independent tests of air quality in Windsor Road Cogan – have cast doubt on the Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council’s claims that air pollution levels in the area are falling.
The new tests – carried out by an independent laboratory for Plaid Cymru – using Friends of the Earth monitoring equipment – have revealed preliminary results showing air pollution levels are actually “50% higher than the annual limit”.
The air quality in Windsor Road Cogan is so bad the area is officially designated as an Air Quality Management Area – the only one in the Vale of Glamorgan . Over the last five years a series of tests have been carried out by the Vale Council – but the council has done little to actually reduce pollution levels and provide local residents with breathable air – particularly in the notorious “Cogan Dip” .
The campaign group Friends of the Earth installed its own special pollution monitoring equipment in Cogan and discovered that there were alarmingly high levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution on Windsor Road in February this year.
Plaid Cymru say “Preliminary results show levels were 50% higher than the annual limit.” The party says that the Vale Council’s own monitoring data also confirms that “pollution was worse in January-February (unpublished results).”
Friends of the Earth also took Nitrogen Dioxide measurements also at three sites on the main road through Dinas Powys, with highest results by the Murch traffic lights. Here the measurement was 35, compared with 60 micro-grammes per cubic metre in Cogan. Plaid Cymru says any level over 30 may be considered harmful (normal streets are around 20) and it’s “particularly disturbing to measure 35 by Dinas Powys infant school, as children’s lung-growth is stunted by air pollution.”
Plaid Cymru says that – for legal purposes – one month’s data is too little; an average over 12 months needs to be taken to compare with the legal limit of 40. “The result of 60 in Cogan is significantly higher than normal highs and should shake any complacency over lower results since 2014.”
The Cogan results monitored on equipment at the bus stop where Penarth-bound buses running ahead of schedule – pull in and wait with engines running and passengers aboard to soak up time before entering Penarth Town Centre . Here – Plaid says people are exposed to diesel pollution crossing to the bus, waiting for it and even sitting in it.
Plaid says the nitrogen dioxide level “appears rather higher than the Council results from sensors on house frontages in the same road“. Friends of the Earth is now going to carry out further monitoring and cross-check the results against Vale Council data. The Vale Council’s air pollution report of August 2016 had suggested that results were improving in the Cogan “Air Quality Management Area” – but FoE experts say that may have just been a fluke of the weather.
Anne Greagsby – who is a member of Friends of the Earth and is standing as a Vale and Penarth Town Council candidate in St Augustines in the May 4th elections – says “there is evidence that air pollution worsens lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). In addition, research suggests a role for traffic-generated air pollutants in the development of asthma and COPD, particularly in those living close to busy roads. There is also evidence of a link between traffic-related pollution and heart diseases as well as premature death.
She says “For too long the council has ignored this serious problem. So what can be done about it? For people living in Cogan, fit tight windows and doors and keep them closed during periods of peak traffic when near-road pollutant concentrations are typically highest.
Ms Greagsby says Cardiff Council buses should not be stationary at the Cogan bus stop with diesel engines running and that “anti-idling policies for all vehicles” should be introduced.
She says bus companies should be upgrading their buses with a “combination of hybrid and Euro-VI standard buses on this route to cut back nitrogen dioxide (NO2) bus emissions. Removing the oldest, dirtiest buses from our streets will make a big contribution to tackling transport pollution.”