TOXIC pollution has halved year-on-year as people ditch their cars during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nitrogen dioxide emissions last week in Preston Park, Brighton, are exactly half the level they were in the same period last year.

Meanwhile at the busy Grove Lodge roundabout in Worthing pollution was nearly halved year-on-year.


Scientists say nitrogen dioxide causes premature death for those with respiratory conditions like asthma.

A recent University of Edinburgh study claims more than 50 people in Brighton and Hove die each year from exposure to the gas.

Nitrogen dioxide is mainly produced by traffic.

Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth campaigner Chris Todd said the sharp drop in pollution and traffic should give city planners food for thought.

“It’s a time to take stock and try and strive for better once the crisis is over,” he said. “I went for a walk yesterday and it’s much quieter, especially with no aircraft noise. The air is cleaner and there’s no traffic on the streets. This is showing us what an attractive place our city can be. I think that’s what we need to aim for after the crisis is over.”

The campaigner said a number of measures could be taken once the pandemic is over to ensure traffic does not increase substantially again.

“This isn’t about us having no transport. I wouldn’t advocate that,” he said.

“If we concentrate on making proper cycle lanes, you can fit more people on the roads with less traffic.

“And we should be looking into e-bikes.

“They can eat up a hill in no time and make commuting much easier.

“There’s a whole range of things and some of them would be very quick.

“Increasing bus priority is as simple as a white line and some paint saying “Bus lane”.

“We don’t want to exclude people from coming here so we need to improve buses and trains.

“When it comes to railways we can do things like linking Lewes to Uckfield, which will open up Brighton to places like Tunbridge Wells without having to drive.”

It comes as European Environment Agency data shows big drops in nitrogen dioxide in some cities across Europe.

In Milan, northern Italy, average concentrations of the pollutant over the past four weeks are at least 24 per cent lower than over four weeks earlier this year.

Rome’s pollution levels over the past four weeks were 26 to 35 per cent lower than for the same weeks in 2019.

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