'Poor air quality makes chronic fatigue worse'
A SUFFERER of chronic fatigue has said the poor air quality in St Austell is making her condition harder to live with, as a consultation is launched by Cornwall Council on pollution levels.
Cornwall Council is currently asking residents for their views on whether the town should become an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).
An AQMA would help ensure air quality is given greater consideration when determining planning applications and could unlock funding to improve it, the council said.
Studies have shown the poorest air quality is along the A390, where nitrogen dioxide levels have breached the legal limit for years.
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Eloise Travis, Cornwall Council environmental protection officer, said the highest point was 65 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic meter of air at Holmbush Road – higher than Hackney in London, which measured 63.
Anna Murfitt, who lives in Woodland Road, St Austell, suffers from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), more commonly known as chronic fatigue.
Aside from severe tiredness, sufferers can experience muscular pain, sleeping problems stomach pain and psychological problems such as depression, among others.
"If I'm out in the driveway on a hazy, sunny day I can see the pollution hanging in the air; it's very bad around here," said the 53-year-old.
"I'm practically housebound with ME so I could really do without this pollution. It's quite frightening, as is the 'free for all' with developers.
"[Planners] are not taking things like this seriously when passing housing applications."
Ms Murfitt said she would urge residents to register their opinions for the consultation.
Dr Ben Wheeler, a health geographer at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, based in Truro, said the health effects of traffic pollution are mostly felt by people with existing heart and lung conditions, such as asthma.
"People always make presumptions that because Cornwall is so rural it wouldn't have air-quality problems, but that's not always the case," he added.
"Air pollution is a very localised thing. It's just a question of what you do about it."
If St Austell becomes an AQMA, Cornwall Council would prepare an action plan to improve air quality, including better transport and reducing congestion.
AQMAs are already in place in Redruth, Camborne, Pool, Bodmin and Tideford.
"Several hundred AQMAs have been declared across the UK over the past 10 to 15 years and there are not any known negative effects, such as a reduction in house prices," added Ms Travis.
"Around 29,000 people in the UK die prematurely each year due to poor air quality.
"It is very important to do all we can to improve air quality in our towns."
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