Diesel Cars – ‘Massive Public Health Problem’

By Jonathan Owen & Jamie Merrill – The Independent on Sunday

The drive by the previous government to encourage millions of people to opt for diesel cars in a bid to lower carbon emissions has created a ‘massive problem for public health’ the shadow environment minister, has admitted.

Ten million Britons drive diesel cars, in a trend which was encouraged by tax breaks given by George Brown when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Last year more than half of all new cars were diesel. But while they emit less carbon dioxide (CO2) than their petrol counterparts, diesel cars emit more deadly pollutants – which have contributed to dangerous levels of air pollution causing the deaths of 29,000 people a year.

Air pollution from carCompared to petrol cars, diesels produce 22 times the amount of  particulate matter – a cause of cancer. And they emit up to four times more nitrogen oxides – including nitrogen dioxides, which damages lungs and blood vessels and can cause heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Barry Gardiner, shadow environment minister, said: “there’s no question that the decision we took was the wrong decision, but, and it’s a big but, at the time we didn’t have evidence that subsequently we did have, and we had cleaner diesel engines, which we thought meant that any potential problem was a lower grade problem than the problem we were trying to solve of CO2.”

Speaking in a Dispatches documentary that will be broadcast on Channel 4 tomorrow, he claims the drive for diesel was the “right move away from those vehicles who were pushing out CO2 emissions.”

Air quality is now so poor that it is stunting the lungs of young children in parts of London, according to preliminary findings of researchers at Queen Mary University Hospital and King’s College, London.

The documentary also reveals how car drivers are exposed to higher levels of pollutants than cyclists and pedestrians. Professor Frank Kelly, Chair of of the Committee for the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, said that diesel fumes could “penetrate” car cabins with “ease”. Alan Andrews, a lawyer with environmental campaign group Client Earth, said: “People still think diesel is the green fuel… The truth is diesel is a very heavily pollutant fuel.”

In London, councils are pushing back against diesel engines, with plans in Islington and Hackney for surcharges of up to £96 on parking permits for diesel vehicles.

The car industry has reacted with dismay to the “blanket” clampdown, with one source close to Ford, which just opened a £190m diesel engine plant at Dagenham, saying it was an unfair “demonisation of diesel”.

A government spokesperson said it had invested £2bn since 2010 on “ultra-low-emission vehicles, sustainable travel and green transport schemes”.

“Not many of us can get away from passively ‘smoking car fumes’ unfortunately. We still await a clean replacement for the internal combustion engine after well over a hundred years!!”

School Installs Life Saving Machines For Heart Problem Girls


A family stricken with a potentially deadly heart condition has inspired three schools to instal life-saving defibrillator machines.

Pamela Statham and her daughters Jessica and Frankie all have Long QT syndrome, which scan disrupt heart rhythm.

Pamela and the girls, along with three other members of the  family were diagnosed with the rare disorder after her 10-month-old son Jamie died in his sleep in 2007.

His death was unexplained but Pamela, of Salford, Greater Manchester, believes Jamie may also have had Long QT.

Their plight has led to 12-year-old Jessica’s school Buile Hill College, her former school Light Oaks Junior and Frankie’s school St John’s Primary getting the defibrillators and  first-aid training for staff and pupils.

They acted after Pamela put them in touch with local charity Hand On Heart.

Pamela, 40, and her family are treated with heart regulating beta-blockers and have regular scans. But the defibrillators bring extra peace of mind.

Pamela said: “It is amazing knowing that they are safe and have precautions in place should the worst happen. I want a defibrillator at home.” Light Oaks Junior School now has another pupil with a cardiac condition, 10 year-old Emma Burns.

She has a hole in the heart, and has undergone open-heart surgery twice.

Her mother Beverley Burns said: “It is wonderful that the school has this training and equipment. It gives me peace of mind.”

Eight members of staff have learned how to use the defibrillator and thirty children now have resuscitation and first aid skills taught by Hand ON Heart.

“Let’s hope more schools with children with heart conditions consider installing these machines.”

Nurse Accused of Three Murders – Trial Will Restart

Following initial post at – ‘Murder at Random’ By A Male Nurse – A jury  trying a nurse accused of murdering three patients was discharged on Friday.

The trial of Victorino Chua, 49, was halted after a juror said family problems left him unable to continue hearing the case., which began last Tuesday.

Mr Justice Openshaw said a new jury would be chosen on Monday at Manchester Crown Court.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said Chua murdered three patients at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport by contaminating drips and ampoules with insulin in June and July 2011.

Saline DripThe court heard 18 0ther patients became ill after being treated with products allegedly contaminated by Chua, of Heaton Norris, Stockport.

Peter Grifffiths, QC, defending, said Chua was a scapegoat. He denies murdering Derek Weaver, 83, Arnold Lancaster, 71, and Tracey Arden, 44.

He also denies 23 charges of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm, one of causing grievous bodily harm, eight of attempting to administer poison and one of administering poison.

“Somebody did it – will the evidence given prove it was him”