A UNIVERSITY vice- chancellor has called on the Government to take more notice of evidence pointing to an air pollution crisis facing the planet.

Professor Debra Humphris was speaking after University of Brighton scientists presented new research showing society is facing a public health time bomb.

They told how air pollution is linked to 50,000 premature deaths in the UK every year.

This includes 9,400 in London and 430,000 in the EU as a whole, through heart disease, asthma, and even dementia.

The lead researchers were head of the school of environment and technology Kirsty Smallbone and lecturer Kevin Wyche.

They studied ultra-fine particles which can pass through the lung alveoli and contaminate organs including the brain.

Their data comes from the university’s £250,000 advanced air pollution monitoring station based at its campus in Falmer.

Prof Humphris said: “We have the only air quality monitoring station of its kind in the UK that is addressing an incredibly important global issue and we must act on this data.

“As a university committed to sustainability and doing what we can for the community we will work to highlight the evidence to the Government in the hope it will take the issue of air quality seriously.

“The rigorousness of the collection and analysis of data by Kirsty and Kevin is outstanding.”

Dr Wyche said the findings had showed predictable increases in air pollution at peak times but an unexpected rise in ultra-fine pollutants during afternoons and in hot weather.

He said these pollutants were being transformed or “grown” from gases.

Dr Wyche said: “We need to know more about the mechanism behind this.

“We really are at the beginning of what will be a very long project.”

Dr Smallbone said air pollution was now one of the greatest threats to global society and the UK lies within a pollution hot spot.

She said the Government did not have a good track record on the subject and pointed to delays in the publication of the latest Air Quality Strategy for consultation.

Meanwhile, she said, the university was taking action.

This included speaking to industry on new air filters for buildings and taking their research to schools.

It is now now looking into establishing an education centre at the university to increase awareness among young children.