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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 00:49 GMT
Airports fail air pollution test
Most of the airports were above EU recommendations
Most English airports do not meet EU-recommended limits on the pollutant gas nitrogen dioxide, a study suggests.

Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham and Newcastle airports are the worst offenders, a report from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy found.

They believe asthma, bronchitis and emphysema sufferers are worst affected by exposure to the gas.

Only Sandown airport on the Isle of Wight was below the recommended limit, the survey found.

The EU recommends levels of nitrogen dioxide need to be below 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

Heathrow 7
Gatwick 7
Newcastle 7
Birmingham 7
Manchester 6
Liverpool 6
Blackpool 6
Sheffield 6
Humberside 6
London City 6
Southampton 6
Exeter 6
Gloucester 6
Teesside International 5
Norwich 5
Plymouth City 5
Leeds Bradford International 4
Luton 4
Cambridge 4
Biggin Hill, Kent 4
Shoreham, Sussex 4
Isle of Wight (Sandown) 3
Scores of more than four exceed EU guidelines

But the worst four airports exceed that amount by up to 75%, the survey found.

Manchester, Liverpool, Blackpool, Sheffield, Humberside, London City, Southampton, Exeter and Gloucester Airports were up to 50% higher than the EU target, the survey found.

Leeds Bradford International, Luton, Cambridge, Biggin Hill in Kent and Shoreham in Sussex were all at the recommended limit.

Professor Grahame Pope, from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy said: "The effects of airport emissions on air quality and public health are of serious concern to physiotherapists.

"It's not just NO2 polluting the environment around airports; our study reveals high ozone concentrations at some sites too."

But he said that while planes contributed, most of the pollution was actually caused by cars, buses and taxis taking people to and from the airports.

"With cheap flights making air travel more affordable, several airports want to expand capacity," Mr Pope added.

"We would urge the government to consider ways of balancing passenger convenience with improving public health when looking at these proposals."

However, Birmingham International Airport dismissed the findings saying the figures were misleading.

The BIA said the results were skewed by traffic travelling along the M42 that was unrelated to the airport.

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow are dependent on it meeting the EU 40 micrograms nitrogen dioxide limit, which will become mandatory from 2010.

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