Letter: A nation addicted to traffic fumes

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The Independent Online
A nation addicted to traffic fumes

Sir: On my return to England after years abroad, one thing that struck me was the pall of traffic fumes that swathed every inner city I ventured into. The blithe lack of concern about this form of pollution I found disconcerting.

Now I have become wiser: it seems the English actually thrive on exhaust fumes. How else can one explain the widespread aversion among drivers to turning off the engines of their stationary vehicles while visiting cashpoints, rifling the contents of the boot or accompanying their offspring into schools?

This revelation is not mine alone. After reading your article on proposed changes to British air quality classifications (31 January), I realised that the canny Conservative government has reached the same conclusion. Air containing 150 parts per billion oxides of nitrogen is soon to be officially described as "very good". Let us hope our foresighted ministers have a veto ready to pre-empt any contradiction from those tiresome Europeans.