Liz Godfrey

Mums for Lungs

Passers by looking at Mums for Lungs street advertising board in central Manchester - copyright Mums for Lungs

More than 200 people in Greater Manchester may have died due to air pollution since the Clean Air Zone was supposed to start, say campaigners at Mums for Lungs.

After a huge public backlash, the Clean Air Zone was paused in early 2022 after the government agreed to push back the legal deadline for improving air quality.

But the Mums for Lungs campaign group claims that the Clean Air Zone could have helped prevent respiratory conditions caused by air pollution. Research conducted by business lobby group CBI Economics in 2021 found that a 16 per cent reduction in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) could prevent 155 deaths and save more than 350 days spent in hospital in Greater Manchester due to respiratory conditions each year.

Sarah’s Letter (age 6) - copyright Rebecca Lupton Photography

The campaigners claim that, based on these figures, over the last 17 months since the Clean Air Zone was supposed to be introduced, 219 potential deaths and 496 potential days in hospital could have been prevented. It comes as the group launches a campaign calling on drivers of diesel vehicles to think of the health of children in Greater Manchester when using their cars.

Mums for Lungs have been leaving letters from ‘the Children of Manchester’ on public boards and through a digital advertising campaign designed to amplify the children’s voices across the streets of Manchester. The letter expresses concern about children with asthma having to breathe in the air pollution from ‘stinky exhausts’ and encourages drivers to ‘ditch diesel’.

The letter from 6 year old Sarah, reads: “Dear Driver. When I walk to school I see loads of cars driving up and down the roads. I smell and breathe in all the air pollution from stinky exhausts. I am worried about all the children with asthma, like my cousins and my Daddy. Please drive less, turn off your engines when you’re parked and join the campaign to Ditch Diesel. Love the Children of Manchester.”

Children have been pinning up the letters on noticeboards across Greater Manchester - copyright Mums for Lungs

Liz Godfrey, from Mums for Lungs Manchester, said: “Living near a busy road can stunt children’s lung growth by up to 14 per cent, this sets them up for a lifetime of health problems. Greater Manchester currently has some of the highest paediatric admission rates for asthma in the country and the increase we are seeing in diesel vehicles here is directly influencing this dreadful statistic.”

Constant delays about how to tackle air pollution in Greater Manchester is failing to prioritise the health of future generations. 

The Manchester Evening News has the full story.