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Research eases pollution fears

PUBLISHED: 15:00 10 October 2001 | UPDATED: 15:18 03 March 2010

FAMILIES' worries of illness-causing pollution spewing from traffic on the A14 and wafting into their homes have been quashed by research.

Experts have given the all-clear to the air at Trimley St Mary and say monitoring samples and computer predictions show that people have nothing to fear.

FAMILIES' worries of illness-causing pollution spewing from traffic on the A14 and wafting into their homes have been quashed by research.

Experts have given the all-clear to the air at Trimley St Mary and say monitoring samples and computer predictions show that people have nothing to fear.

Air quality is good and is not expected to deteriorate in the next few years, even with increased traffic – though experts will keep a close-eye on the situation.

Another pollution hotspot in High Road West, Felixstowe, has also been given the all-clear, though monitoring is still taking place to assess the effect of shipping funnel exhaust fumes on people living on the Cavendish Park estate.

Suffolk Coastal council has been carrying out detailed research costing more than £100,000 over the past three years to assess current pollution problems in the district and what the situation will be like by 2005.

It was part of a government project to improve the quality of the country's air, with pollution being blamed for causing and worsening a number of respiratory-type illnesses, including asthma.

Officers examined in detail several hotspots for toxins in the air, including tiny amounts of metals, gases and chemicals which could pose a risk to health.

Equipment was set up to monitor nitrogen dioxide next to the A14 between Trimley St Mary and the dock spur roundabout, used by 30,000 vehicles a day.

Villagers living on the Farmlands estate had complained in the past about traffic fumes blowing across the open space into homes at times when lorry traffic going to and from the Port of Felixstowe has been heavy.

Similar equipment was also used in High Road West, heavily used by traffic at rush-hour peak times.

Director of environmental services, Deborah Robinson said both places had been given the all-clear following the gathering of evidence of nitrogen oxide and the use of computer models to predict future air quality.

If a serious problem had been found, the council would have been instructed to draw up an action plan to illustrate how it would deal with the problem.

"It is really good news. Trimley in particular was one of the areas which we were concerned about but the data and the computer models show we do not have a problem now and do not expect one by 2005," said Mrs Robinson.

"We will continue to monitor the area every other year to check the levels as situations can change."

Because it had not been possible to develop a computer model to measure sulphur dioxide from ships calling at Felixstowe port, equipment was being used to gather data over several months.

Although the results were not yet available, Mrs Robinson did not anticipate any problems being revealed.

"We need to do the work to protect the people living on the nearby Cavendish Park estate, but we don't have any serious concerns and testing in the past has not shown any problems," she added.

Each year 4,500 ships come into the port, funnels pumping out a mixture of smoke and chemical particles into the air.

Although council environmental health experts believe these are "low-level" emissions, they are more difficult to compute because they are not constant like a factory and many factors, such as wind, need to be taken into account.

Worldwide there is increasing concern over emissions from the largest ships.

Cargoships and oil tankers are alleged to account for 14pc of the total nitrogen oxides and 16 per cent of all sulphur oxide emissions from petroleum sources.

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