Your letters: 'Yes, blame cars, but we inhale other pollutants'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

We struck a chord with the launch of our campaign last week, in which we aim to put pressure on those with the power to tackle the causes of this increasingly prevalent disease. Readers have joined our call to arms with their own arguments and accounts of their experiences. We have also received scores of letters on almost every aspect of asthma. Here is a selection - and please keep on writing to us.

We struck a chord with the launch of our campaign last week, in which we aim to put pressure on those with the power to tackle the causes of this increasingly prevalent disease. Readers have joined our call to arms with their own arguments and accounts of their experiences. We have also received scores of letters on almost every aspect of asthma. Here is a selection - and please keep on writing to us.

 

I strongly support your efforts to establish more precisely what the relationship is between vehicle exhaust and respiratory illness. It would be valuable to focus as well on other pollutants. There is an ever-increasing use of perfumes, both natural and synthetic, in cleaning products, air fresheners and sprays, which are used, of course, in the home as well as in public places.

GW Williams, Macclesfield, Cheshire

 

From 1991 my family lived in Taplow in the Thames Valley, which is near the A4, M4 and the M25. My eldest son, born in 1991, and my daughter, born in 1995, were afflicted by asthma every time they caught a cold. My husband's asthma was exacerbated. In 1996 we moved to a rural area of West Yorkshire. My children have not had any attacks since, and my husband's condition became much more stable.

 

Liz White, by email

Two months after moving from Manchester to a village in Cheshire, our son had his first asthma attack. Since then, he has been on daily medication. Now we are trying to move to the coast.

Y Yates, by email

 

Traffic fumes are double trouble for asthmatics. They not only cause asthma but they are capable of carrying grass pollen deep into the lungs. This was among the conclusions of scientists supported by the National Asthma Campaign in 1999. The NAC has also investigated the house dust mite, and concluded that it causes asthma.

Nell Nockles, East Molesey, Surrey

 

I was pleased to see that you haven't completely fallen for the usual "scientists discover the true cause of asthma" approach. I suffer from three distinct (to me!) types – allergic (to cats, pine and grass, but not house-dust mites), irritant (pollution, very cold air, quantities of dust), and stress (chest tightening before exams, interviews, etc).

Jon Jackson, by email

 

Congratulations on your campaign. I would like to point out two areas that are commonly missed: the workplace and emissions from landfill sites and processing plants. As a former board member of the Environment Agency, I am sad to say that the controls to prevent landfills emitting toxins and other polluting processes are ineffective.

AJP Dalton, London NW5

 

When I split up from my husband, who was a smoker, my asthma improved. I now have to avoid smoky atmospheres, which means I can't have a drink in a pub, or eat in most restaurants. Smokers say that their freedom is being restricted if public places are made smoke-free. But what about my freedom?

The merest hint of diesel smoke makes me cough; I always know if a car is a diesel because of this, even if it's a modern one – in fact they are the worst.

Rose Jackson, Hounslow, Middlesex

 

Most trips in cars are no more than five miles long and 50 per cent are less than three miles. Pollution from cars is higher during short trips. These distances are most suitable for cycling and walking. Many urban polluting car journeys could be replaced by the healthier options, which would reduce pollution. Let's get down to some really serious improvements in the cycle networks.

Colin Jarvis, Chelmsford, Essex

 

We can introduce a practical solution straightaway – a 20mph speed limit in urban areas with totally safe cycle routes linking all towns and villages. If you think that this is pie-in-the-sky, take a trip to the Netherlands where you can see such a system unfolding right now.

Jon Fuller, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

 

Our children suffered mildly from asthma after we moved from London to rural Hampshire. They improved when we improved ventilation, removed dust from under floorboards and renewed old loft insulation.

Nick Vandervell, by email

 

My son's primary school has the problem of parents waiting outside in their cars with their engines ticking over. When I asked Newcastle City Council and my son's school if we could ask people to switch off their engines, the answer was an arrogant no.

Philip Reed, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

 

The technology to run vehicles much more economically and cleanly has been around for years but tends to be suppressed because of vested interests.

Matt Body, Coventry

 

There has been a remarkable fall in pollution, including particulates, in the UK over the past 25 years, yet asthma cases appear to have risen. So, if there is any link between asthma and pollution, it has yet to be established.

Anthony Illingworth and Giles Harrison, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading

 

Inhabitants of the idyllic ocean island of Tristan da Cunha breathe some of the cleanest air on the planet, yet doctors there report that virtually every inhabitant has asthma.

Bernard Abrams, Environment Spokesman, Association of British Drivers, Kenley, Surrey

 

The widespread use of diesel-fuelled cars and light commercial vehicles since the 1980s has been paralleled by a growing incidence of asthma in childhood.

S J Mack, Birmingham

 

You listed five vehicles purportedly less polluting than conventional petrol-powered ones. The low-consumption-petrol Toyota Prius apart, the objective reality is that all four battery-powered and hydrogen-powered vehicles would cause more CO 2 emissions than conventional ones because of the energy used to produce their "fuel".

Jim Mangles, Wortham, Norfolk

 

I understood that catalytic converters had been fitted to petrol cars to reduce pollution. Has this change affected the statistics regarding asthma?

DW Massey, by email

 

East Thurrock is under threat from a planned container port and a industrial complex which will generate 40,000 vehicle movements a day. I find it hypocritical that Michael Meacher intends to preach to Europe on pollution while the Government is expected to approve this development.

Derek Parker, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex

 

I heard on the radio that many people diagnosed as suffering from asthma were suffering from other conditions. After that I wondered if I had been diagnosed correctly. Concerned that there might be something in my diet, I stopped eating tomatoes. The result was almost instantaneous and within a week I stopped using my inhalers.

Stephen Woolfe, by email

 

I was delighted to see a newspaper campaigning on behalf of sufferers. But I question your sincerity when I see you carrying 10 advertisements for cars. After all, they're to blame.

David E Owen, Church Stretton, Shropshire

 

To contribute to our debate, write to the Independent on Sunday Asthma Campaign, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, fax to 020-7005 2628, or email to asthma@independent.co.uk giving your full postal address.

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