A campaign to tackle air pollution is being backed by a Euro MP for Hampshire. The scheme comes as figures in Southampton show that pollution is going up – with a number of new areas likely to be designated Air Quality Management Areas by the city council. The most recent research shows that pollution hotspots such as Onslow Road saw increases in nitrogen dioxide between 2009 and 2010. Breathing in the pollutant can cause a range of harmful effects on the lungs, along with increasing respiratory issues. Air pollution is thought to particularly affect the young, elderly and those with existing conditions such as asthma. Monitoring has also shown that new air quality management areas in places such as Burgess Road and New Road may also need to be declared. The figures produced by Southampton City Council also indicate a significant rise in nitrogen dioxide levels in Redbridge since 2001. Southampton is not the only area in Hampshire with air pollution problems – with the village of Botley also experiencing high levels of chemicals around its high street. It has also been designated an air quality management area and Eastleigh Borough Council is working on an action plan to try to tackle the problem. Green MEP Keith Taylor, who represents the region in Europe, has backed the European Environment Agency’s Year of Air – which is a pledge to focus on reducing pollution during 2013. He is also calling on the Government to halt its efforts to change existing European Union air quality rules – saying that politicians are attempting to “water down” the legislation. Mr Taylor added: “With children and the elderly being hit hardest by poor air quality, and the levels of some noxious pollutants on the rise, we badly need to see strong legislation from the European Union in 2013. “It beggars belief that the UK Government is trying to water down European legislation that will protect the lives of residents in places like Southampton. “I urge them to back strong laws on air pollution and to improve people’s health.”
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