If you asked most parents they’d say that they love their kids; that they want them to grow up and have long, healthy lives. So you’d think that they would aim for that, wouldn’t you? I mean how hard can it be? Feed them properly, give them plenty of opportunities to run around in the fresh air, expand their minds to prepare them for a better future. I reckon that all sounds pretty fair.
I thought about this while standing, waiting to cross Cromwell Road this prevening. A group of six year olds, all togged out in their flouro vests, holding hands for safety, an attentive teacher on hand to make sure they all kept safely together. She (the teacher) had them all line up at the side of the road, waiting for the green man to allow egress.
And they were all very good, standing, chatting, laughing, all the time being well behaved. It was all lovely to see.
Well except for the fact that they were all standing with their feet right on the edge of the path, as close to the traffic as the red light would allow. Given their average height was about three feet, they were at the perfect height and distance in order to consume vast quantities of exhaust fumes and lots and lots of heavy metal particulates.
Cromwell Road is generally full of buses, trucks, cars, noisy, smelly motorbikes, in fact everything that makes breathing quite difficult. I hate the smell and purposely stand well back from the edge of the road because of it. Perhaps I’m not used to the foul smell which lines the back of the throat with a strong metallic coating. If so, I’m glad. I really wouldn’t want to get used to it.
Obviously, all car exhaust is going to be bad but diesel is the worst and what you are breathing is, in part, quantities of arsenic, benzene and nickel. Is that really what parents want their kids breathing? Arsenic?
Since 1955 the prevalence of children presenting at a doctor in the UK with wheezing and breathing difficulties has increased eightfold. That comes from a British Medical Journal report into Asthma in the UK over the 50 years from 1955 to 2005. And, for the simple minded, that isn’t because the population grew by 800%.
On the other hand, even though we know that diesel exhaust is the worst kind of exhaust, the use of diesel powered vehicles in London increased by over 29% between 2012 and 2015. How insane is that? What is wrong with people? I know it’s cheaper but surely breathing is better than a few pence.
And if the cost was really the problem why the hell aren’t we doing more to eradicate harmful fumes and truly try for clean fuel? I know, I know it’ll never happen because people just love petrol. It’s obvious how much they love petrol given they spend most of their days sitting in a car surrounded by their own exhaust.
This always surprises me. People claim they need their cars to go to and from work because of the convenience. But when does it become an inconvenience? An extra hour? Two? Maybe three. I figure people sitting in their cars along Hale Road every evening must love their cars so much they can’t bare to leave them. They all get together, create a traffic jam and just sit there. Or maybe they just don’t want to go home to their constantly wheezing kids.
Not that I’m ever going to solve anything because, essentially people just do what’s cheapest, easiest and short sighted enough to satisfy their consciences. They are also incredibly lazy, on the whole…I mean it’s obvious isn’t it? If they weren’t lazy why would they spend three hours sitting in their cars every day?
I’m not saying people should stop driving their cars (it provides me with constant entertainment, after all), what I am saying is they really should pay attention to how close their kids are standing to them. They need to ask why it’s so important to stand right on the edge of the footpath? Where is the benefit in a few feet?
You’ll still make it across the road but your kids might just breathe a little easier.