Vehicle emissions to be tested in new city air pollution study

GADGETS to measure air pollution are being installed this week on five of Sheffield’s busiest roads, in a bid to assess the impact of traffic on air quality for the first time.

Sheffield Council will place equipment at five locations across the city, where specialist recording devices on loan from the 
Institute for Transport Studies at Leeds University will monitor potentially-dangerous emission levels.

So far, six possible locations have been identified, and the tests will be placed at five of them.

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The six shortlisted spots are Western Bank and Broad Lane near Sheffield University; Eyre Street in the city centre, Prince of Wales Road, Asline Road in Lowfield and also in the centre of Attercliffe.

It is estimated that more than 400,000 of the half a million vehicle trips made in Sheffield every day are made by using a car or a taxi.

Coun Jack Scott, Sheffield Council’s spokesman for the environment, said yesterday: “We know that air pollution impacts badly on Sheffield people’s health and the economy and contributes to climate change.

“Each year, the impact of air quality on health costs the Sheffield economy £160m and results in up to 500 early deaths.

“We know one of the reasons for this is traffic.

“We know in theory the amount of harmful gases vehicles produce as told to us by manufacturers, but we have never tested the levels throughout the city.

“The latest phase of our Low Emission Zone Feasibility Study will look to do this.”

Coun Scott added: “Our overall aim is to make the air we breathe healthier, so we can continue to be an environmentally responsible city and keep Sheffield a great place to live.”

The project is described as a “critical part” of the second phase of the council’s Low Emission Zone Feasibility Study, which has been largely funded through a grant from Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

As vehicles drive through each of the monitoring sites, the recording devices will use an ultra violet and infra-red beam to measure emissions.

The devices pick up the levels of nitrogen dioxide gas and fine dust particles emitted, both of which are damaging to human health and the environment.

They also also pick up information about the type of vehicle producing those emissions.

A spokesman for Sheffield Council said: “The surveys start next week, weather permitting, and will continue until the end of May.

“Each location will be surveyed for two days.

“There should be no disruption to travellers as a result of the surveys and drivers are asked to drive as they would normally.”

The first phase of the Low Emission Zone Feasibility Study, 
which was completed in November last year, provided an initial assessment of transport emissions.

This second phase study is expected to be completed in October this year.

Both phases together have cost £135,000, of which aroudn £115,000 has come from Defra.

Back in January, it was announced that Defra would be giving £150,000 to both York and Bradford councils to try and tackle air pollution.

In York, the money is being spent on schemes including the promotion of low emissions vehicles.

York remains one of the worst pollution blackspots in the region, with traffic fumes remaining trapped in the narrow streets of the ancient city.

It has been estimated that between 94 and 163 people die prematurely in York each year because of poor air quality.

Coun Dave Merrett said in January this year: “It is vital we change people’s travel habits in the city, as the pollution is having a profound effect on health.”