Analysis of official government data by Greenpeace's investigations unit shows that Salford is in the top ten local authority areas most affected by illegal air pollution. The environmental organisation has also produced an interactive map* showing nine of the city's nurseries that are within 150metres of roads that break legal limits for air pollution caused by Nitrogen Dioxide, or NO2.
The nurseries named are Scallywags Pre-School at St Luke's Parish Hall on Derby Road; Summerville Primary School on Duchy Estate; Smilies at the Height Methodist Church, Irlams O' Th Height; Happy Days Out of School Club, Holy Rood Church Hall in Swinton; Westwood Park Community Primary School, Winton; Bambi Playgroup at The Magdalene Centre, Winton; The Manse Nursery, Eccles; The Cottage Nursery, Eccles and Early Learning Childcare, on Chapel Street...
Recent research from the University of Leeds, the Barcelona Institute for Global Health and King's College in London has shown that children exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution have a higher risk of developing asthma and an increased chance of having 'abnormal lung function'.
Greenpeace cites research by Aether that claims diesel causes almost a third of the nitrogen oxide air pollution in the UK, and 90% of the nitrogen oxides on our roads. It is calling for the car industry to drop diesel and start making affordable electric cars; and for the Government to help drivers switch to cleaner cars through a national diesel scrappage scheme and investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
"Most people don't realise that all across the country, toddlers are being exposed to invisible air pollution caused by diesel vehicles" says Anna Jones, a Greenpeace clean air campaigner "At such a young age, children are extremely vulnerable to its effects, and it can cause long-lasting health impacts and reduced lung function.
"We were told diesel cars were the cleaner choice, but car makers lied about how much pollution they emit" she adds "That deception has left our kids exposed to toxic air pollution that's causing widespread chronic health problems."
Last week, Greater Manchester Greenpeace activists took to the streets to launch their latest campaign warning people to the dangers of diesel cars. They started the campaign by posting stickers on the windows of diesel cars in the forecourts of dealerships for BMW, Jaguar and Citroen, warning potential buyers that 'Diesel harms your health'. According to Greenpeace, two thirds of brand new diesel cars are pumping out higher concentrations of toxic air than they should.
"Greater Manchester has some of the worst air quality in the country" says local Greenpeace campaigner Martin Porter "We may have banished the smoke of the industrial revolution, but we have replaced it with the invisible killer of car exhausts.
"This affects everyone who lives, works or plays in the city" he adds "When my children take part in football at the weekend they are breathing these toxic fumes. But what's worst of all, what makes me most angry, is that many of the people driving diesel cars were tricked into thinking they were good for the environment. Car companies must stop being the roadblock to progress and start lobbying for electric vehicles..."
• To view the Greenpeace interactive map – click here
Update: Canterbury Centre has been removed from the list as it has been pointed out that it is not a nursery
Photos by Steven Speed