Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Martina Chukwuma-Ezike: If I walk through Aberdeen city centre I’ll have an asthma attack

Market Street, pictured, is one of the worst streets in Aberdeen for air pollution (Photo: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson)
Market Street, pictured, is one of the worst streets in Aberdeen for air pollution (Photo: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson)

Air pollution is out of control again.

If I were to walk from Aberdeen’s St Nicholas Centre to Union Square via Market Street, I would suffer an asthma attack later that night. That’s a fact.

Even though I live and work in the city, there are entire sections of it that I must avoid completely to keep myself safe.

Guest columnist, Martina Chukwuma-Ezike, speaks up about air pollution: "Toxic air in Scotland is a killer and puts thousands of people at risk of developing life-threatening asthma attacks and flare-ups."

Those microscopic particles of poison are invading every part of our bodies – even getting into our bloodstreams.

So, we can acknowledge that deadly air pollution is one of the biggest public health problems facing us today. But, what can we do beyond pressing the Scottish Government to commit to bolder clean air targets and improving public awareness?

Air pollution reduces life expectancy

Air quality is down to unacceptably low, pre-pandemic level. Union Street was recently named one of the dirtiest streets in the UK, and data shows that as many as 3,500 die from toxic air in Scotland every year. Government statistics also estimate that air pollution reduces life expectancy by seven to eight months.

A woman holding an asthma inhaler to her mouth.
Asthma sufferers are negatively affected by air pollution. (Photo: Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock)

There are thousands like me living in the north-east affected. Around 40% of asthma sufferers are likely to endure acute episodes on days where pollution is particularly bad.

And, by exposing our children to dirty air, we are storing up major health problems for the future.

This is a shameful situation and, quite frankly, we could all be doing more, especially when you consider that most of these particles come from our cars.

Potential future nightmare does not need to become reality

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation is in discussions with groups like Friends of the Earth Scotland, the country’s leading data scientists, and politicians who are passionate on this issue about forming a “common sense council” on air pollution.

And on July 1 we are holding a conference at the University of Aberdeen, to kick-start a fresh conversation around this issue.

Toxic air in Scotland is a killer and puts thousands of people at risk of developing life-threatening asthma attacks and flare-ups.

We need to start taking this issue more seriously. Are we just going to keep going until Aberdeen and other Scottish cities resemble one of the post-apocalyptic Hollywood movies where everyone needs a mask to breathe? We want life expectancy to be going up, not down, as it is in some Asian capitals.

This nightmarish vision doesn’t have to become reality. But we need to start taking bold and creative steps before it is too late.

  • The Asthma and Allergy Foundation is Scotland’s only dedicated asthma charity. Its What’s In The Air? conference starts at 5pm on July 1 at the Sir Duncan Rice Library, University of Aberdeen

Martina Chukwuma-Ezike is CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, and Lord Rector of the University of Aberdeen

Martina Chukwuma-Ezike: Asthma causes too many preventable deaths in Scotland

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

Conversation

[[title_reg]]

Please enter the name you would like to appear on your comments. (It doesn’t have to be your real name - but nothing rude please, we are a polite bunch!) Use a combination of eight or more characters that includes an upper and lower case character, and a number.

By registering with [[site_name]] you agree to our Terms and Conditions and our Privacy Policy

Or sign up with

Facebook Google

[[content_reg_complete]]

[[title_login]]

Or login with

Forgotten your password? Reset it

[[title]]