The silent killer on Caversham’s busy roads – 2018

The harm to human health and our environment of “Poor Air Quality” has been the subject of international, UK and local media discussion for some years. The alarming measurements taken by Caversham GLOBE (Go Local On a Better Environment) group, as part of a national campaign organised by Friends of the Earth (FoE), reveal the dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in central Caversham.  Special test tubes were obtained and installed to measure the amount of harmful and dangerous nitrogen dioxide (micro-grams per cubic metre) on some local roads and the results were analysed by Gradko Laboratories of Winchester.

These results, in µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) are as follows:

Caversham Location  Dec 2017  March 2018                July 2018            Sept 2018
Church Street/Prospect Street jnc     Not tested  41 µg/m3    41 µg/m3    34 µg/m3
Near Church St/Priory Ave jnc  Not tested  47 µg/m3    49 µg/m3   40.5 µg/m3
Church Road/St Anne’s Road jnc  56 µg/m3  57 µg/m3    50 µg/m3   41.5 µg/m3
Peppard Rd near Prospect St jnc  Not tested 54 µg/m3    71 µg/m3   48.5 µg/m3

This means we’re breathing in dangerous particles! The legal MEAN ANNUAL limit for nitrogen dioxide is 40µg/m3. These alarming results show just how bad pollution is on our roads and how dangerous they are for residents, pedestrians and cyclists.

Of more concern is the equivalent information that RBC has collected for air quality measurement – see below – showing that THREE CAVERSHAM LOCATIONS HAVE EXCEEDED THE MEAN ANNUAL LEGAL LIMIT FOR THE PAST NINE YEARS

What is to be done? Who will do it?  When? These crucial questions and many more need some answers. This matter has now been raised with the RBC Strategic Environment and Transport Committee. However, the agenda papers of 21 November 2018 on Air Quality (search for 7 page RBC document at ) does not make any reference to AQ readings north of the Thames, even though Prospect Street readings have been above the illegal limit for many years and GLOBE’s AQ readings are not mentioned. Residents groups and RBC Councillors in north Reading need to develop a joint approach for remedial action underpinned with funding and commitment from RBC This could include more trees, street planters and green walls.  However, only by reducing the levels of polluting traffic exhaust fumes will residents, pedestrians and cyclists be able to breathe cleaner air in the long term.

Readers should also note that the infamous Cow Lane Bridges project will be completed in Spring 2019. This will result in increased eastbound vehicle traffic coming to Caversham Bridge junction with Richfield Avenue as well as more traffic coming from the north and east seeking a westbound route across town. Reading Borough Council proposes to restrict traffic in west Reading, on the Oxford Road, so that Portman Road, Richfield Avenue and Caversham Road will be an alternative route. High density of residential apartment blocks planned for Caversham Road, Vastern Road and nearby locations will also bring heavier vehicle traffic. Anyone can reasonably predict longer traffic queues, slower journey times and increased air pollution. Action is overdue. Meantime, best advice might be “hold your breath”? 


February 2019 ref: GLOBE/Air Quality.

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