There was a huge response to our revelation last week that car fumes cause asthma. Here we publish some of those comments, and if you wish to join the debate, write to the Editor at The Independent on Sunday, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or fax to 020-7005 2628, or email to sundayletters@independent.co.uk.

There was a huge response to our revelation last week that car fumes cause asthma. Here we publish some of those comments, and if you wish to join the debate, write to the Editor at The Independent on Sunday, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or fax to 020-7005 2628, or email to sundayletters@independent.co.uk.

So, air pollution is the culprit. Now watch industry drag its feet

Your environment editor, Geoffrey Lean, is remarkably optimistic if he believes that the revelation that air pollution causes asthma will have an explosive effect on health and transport policy in Britain ("Revealed: car fumes give children asthma", 17 February).

The oil, road and motor industries will regard the research from California as flawed and demand the right to do their own research. This will take several years and the results will be published only if they are favourable to the industries concerned. At best, our gutless government will give the motor industry five to 10 years in which to produce a 5 to 10 per cent reduction in emissions. I wish I believed that either industry or government saw child-health as more important than ever- increasing profits.

Richard Betts, Honingham, Norfolk

 

Bring back the pram

Your articles regarding the impact of increased ozone levels on children's health in last week's issue were very interesting. And the photograph accompanying the article on page three ("Blair's top scientist calls for petrol car ban") highlights something which I believe is a contributory factor: the buggy. The ubiquitous and convenient buggy has become the standard way of transporting very young children over the past 20 years.

Once the child is in its buggy, its mouth and nose are at exhaust-pipe level. The child is then pushed headlong through dense exhaust fumes. The additional chill factor of pushing the baby face-first into the winter weather can't improve its health either.

But there is a quick way of improving matters. By devising a method of children's transport that lifts the child further off the ground and turns it around so it does not face the fumes or the elements, its intake of raw exhaust fumes would probably be reduced by at least 50 per cent. What could we name this new method of transport? We could always call it the pram!

Chris Peeke, Witnesham, Suffolk

 

Consistency, please

You write in your front-page article that car fumes give children asthma, and in your leader you claim that the Prime Minister has sabotaged John Prescott's innovative transport policies for fear of offending Mondeo Man. Last week's paper also contained a report on new plans to protect children from obesity ("Pressure for ban on ads during children's TV"). Can I take it from all this that you will likewise protect children's health by no longer carrying car adverts?

Alan Iwi, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

 

East End madness

Many thanks for the brilliant reporting by Geoffrey Lean and others. Sadly, these stories are not read by the authorities responsibe for London's main roads. For example, they are turning the A13 in East London into a six-lane highway, and, worse still, they are following it up with two huge road bridges across the Thames. Of these, the Thames Gateway Bridge ­ also known as the East London River Crossing ­ will smash through Oxleas Wood to join the A2 south of the river. Both will be the kernel for a new system of urban motorways inside East London, the Europe's new capital of pollution and asthma.

George Stern, Simon Wolff Charitable Foundation, London N6

 

Road to better health

Your revelations last week about the new findings linking car fumes to asthma reinforces concerns that Greens have had for many years. Transport is now the dominant source of air pollution in urban areas. Despite the past decade's improvements in air quality in Europe, close to 90 per cent of the urban population is still exposed to excess ambient levels of particulate matter, NO 2, benzene and ozone. Although vehicles have become relatively less polluting, the effect in absolute terms is offset by the increase in the number of vehicles on the roads, together with increases in the length and the number of trips made. Until we are prepared to give health concerns a major place in transport strategy, our children will go on paying for our inaction with their health, and increasingly, their lives.

Dr Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP for South East Region

 

My cure for asthma

Seventy years ago I was brought up in Battersea in London near the coking-plants of Nine Elms. Choking fogs were the order of the day. By the age of six I was severely asthmatic. I completed my schooling without ever being able to engage in sport. My first job took me to Manchester, where the industrial fogs were sometimes so thick that on one occasion a blind man helped me home. Only when I went overseas to milder climes did I discover the relief of breathing freely every day. Meanwhile, I was expected to ascribe my asthma to cats' fur, dust and house-mites.

It grieves me that the sickness which tortured my younger days is now so prevalent. But I am thankful that, at last, the burning of fossil fuels is being shown up as the villain. There is no task more urgent for saving our children and the planet than the harnessing of all resources to the discovery and promotion of alternative energy sources. It is as well that the research which underscores this task should have emanated from the greatest polluter, the United States.

Bernard Noble, The Hague, the Netherlands

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