Count health costs: Greens

THE Greens want health impacts assessed as part of the approval process for heavy traffic projects in urban areas.

Environmental impacts are already assessed and they say it makes sense to add health impacts to the mix: “The World Health Organization has identified air pollution as a significant threat to health across the globe,” says local Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren.

“An estimated 2 million people die every year.”

Likely impacts include asthma, lung disease and cancer, as well as mental health.

The Greens’ call follows ongoing concerns about the government’s determination to push through its preferred option for the widening of High Street in Fremantle over the objections of local residents and the council.

Numerous reports link emissions with adverse health impacts: The WHO identifies diesel particulate as a potent carcinogen, the WA environment and conservation department has mapped the heightened risks of emissions on children and the elderly, while a study from St John’s Ambulance notes a link between pollution and heart attacks.

“Diesel particulates in the air don’t just give you an irritating cough, they can be reason behind a heart attack,” Ms MacLaren says.

“It’s logical that people would expect if a new road was put in, it would look at the impact on one’s health.”

With Perth’s population to double by 2040, there will be more pressure to build more roads. Ms MacLaren says it’s vital that health impacts—and their cost to the community—are taken into consideration.

by PHILIPPA BOURKE

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