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Scotlands Worst Polluted Streets
Rutherglen Main Street remains amongst the worst polluted streets in Scotland, four years after it was claimed the M74 extension would reduce harmful toxins on the town’s main thoroughfare.
Figures released by Friends of the Earth (FoE) show that excessive levels of harmful pollutant coarse particles (PM10) - linked with serious health problems including heart attacks, strokes, respiratory illness and early death - were found on Main Street in 2015.
The level was 18 microgrammes per cubic metre when Scottish Government standards state PM10 must be below 18 to be safe.
The news comes just weeks after Rutherglen became an air quality management area.
Over 100 people in South Lanarkshire die early from exposure to fine particles every year according to Friends of the Earth. Pollution in Rutherglen has not fallen below the legal maximum of 18 following the opening of the M74 in 2011.
Air Pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “The M74 is some distance away from the Main Street monitor, but with thousands and thousands of vehicles on it every day, it will no doubt be adding in part to the high air pollution readings at the Main Street monitor.
“People living and working even closer to the M74 than the Main Street monitor may be breathing in even higher levels.”
She added: “Four years after we first started publishing the list of the most polluted streets, we still find unsafe levels of air pollution in Rutherglen. The Scottish Government needs to be working much more closely with South Lanarkshire Council to ensure that people living, working, and spending time in Rutherglen can breathe the clean air they are entitled to. “
Susan Martin, a member of the Green Party in Rutherglen, said: “The M74 has had a big impact (on pollution levels). It’s people accessing the motorway that’s adding to the problem. It’s common sense that the roads become more polluted and not less polluted with an increase in traffic.” Stating the Cathkin Relief Road will worsen the situation especially at Mill Street, Susan added: “The council can’t just sit on their hands and do nothing especially if it is going to get worse. They have to be held to account.”
Shirley Clelland, head of fleet and environmental services, said: “In general the air quality throughout South Lanarkshire is good, there are however certain areas where air quality needs to improve to meet the targets set by Scottish legislation. Environmental services has been monitoring air quality for some time to establish what the actual levels in the area are and to help identify where these may be above the target legal levels.”
Head of roads and transportation services, Gordon Mackay, added: “One of the main advantages of the new Cathkin Relief Road will be to reduce congestion at peak times which will of course also result in lower carbon emission levels, particularly where traffic is currently busy.”