Putney dad-of-three campaigns for families ‘kept in the dark’ about risks of car pollution

By Camomile Shumba
September 20 2019, 16.25

A Putney father-of-three wants to gather 100,000 signatures on a petition asking Parliament to change the law on idling vehicles.

David Smith, 48, is the founder of Little Ninja, a movement which launches campaigns to reduce air pollution.

Mr Smith said: “For me, it was standing at the 37 bus stop on the south circular road when a 26-wheel articulated lorry stopped right next to the bus shelter and started idling.

“After 50 seconds the traffic lights changed, and the lorry accelerated burning huge amounts of fuel to move tons of weight so a big spike in emissions right into my sons small developing lungs.”

Idling is when a car is not moving, and the engine is kept on.

Nearly 1,300 people have signed the petition to prevent vehicles from idling. Currently, there is a loophole where a driver will get a fine for idling only after they have been warned.

Reports from the Government’s Environmental Audit Committee found in 2018 show 50,000 people a year are more likely to die 7 to 8 months too early.

Mr Smith said: “We must minimise the time our children spend on these busy main roads, the time they spend on diesel buses stuck in congested traffic and the time they spend next to idling vehicles.”

Chancellor Sajid Javid stated this month in his spending round speech that he aims to set aside 30 million on tackling air pollution.

Mr Javid said: “A healthy environment is a precondition for a healthy population.”

Mr Smith uses Little Ninja to inform parents about the risks of air pollution, but he believes that more needs to be done to raise awareness.

He said: “Parents of the children most at risk are from deprived communities who have been kept in the dark about the extent of this public health emergency.

“They do not know that their children have a higher risk of asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, leukaemia, stunted lung & brain growth simply because of the air they breathe.”

Mr Smith asks that people sign the petition and minimise the time children spend on busy roads.

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