SEPA to host festival air quality event

date22 March 2013

As part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival (EISF), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) will be hosting a special event on Tuesday 26 March which will explore the issue of air pollution in Scotland, its impact on human health and the different ways of combating it.

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The event, entitled Air Pollution: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, will be held at the University of Edinburgh’s Teviot Row Dining Room and will include a number of talks from air quality specialists, a lively debating session, as well as a practical demonstration of air quality monitoring.

Speaking at the event, to be chaired by SEPA board member Dr Richard Dixon, will be renowned air pollution expert, Professor Frank Kelly, who will be discussing the impact of air quality on human health, the sources of pollution and the public’s attitude towards the issue. Joining Professor Kelly in presenting will be SEPA principal air scientist, Dr Colin Gillespie, speaking about Scotland’s air quality, and Drew Hill, senior environmental engineer at Transport Scotland, who will discuss the impact and management of traffic.

Following the speakers, a debate, focusing on what individuals can do to reduce air pollution, will be led by Philip Glennie, communities manager of Sustrans Scotland. SEPA staff will then give a demonstration of the Agency’s air quality monitoring equipment and discuss its Airborne Hazards Emergency Response (AHER) Service.

Speaking of the event, Dr Colin Gillespie, principal air scientist at SEPA, said: “Air pollution has been a concern in Scotland, and in other industrialised countries, for many years and it is vital that we discuss its impacts on both the environment and human health.

The urban environment is complex, with many factors contributing to local air quality and the government, local authorities, and general public all have important roles to play in tackling this challenging environmental problem.

“With 2013 being the European “Year of Air”, this is the perfect time for the issue to be seriously addressed and everyone to come together and do something about it.”

The event will begin at 6pm on Tuesday 26 March at the Teviot Row Dining Room, University of Edinburgh. The event is expected to last approx 90 minutes. Tickets are £8 each (£6 concession) and can be purchased via the EISF website sciencefestival.co.uk, by phone on 0844 557 2686, or in person at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Shop, 180 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1QS. If available, tickets can also be purchased at the venue, on the night, 30 minutes prior to the event starting.

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Notes to Editors

Speaker Biographies:

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland and SEPA Board member Richard became Director of FoE Scotland this spring (2013), having been Director of WWF Scotland since 2005. He is currently a board member of SEPA, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and Sniffer. He works on energy, climate and transport issues, and wrote the first comprehensive report on air pollution in Scotland.

Dr Colin Gillespie, Principal Scientist, SEPA As the Principal Air Scientist at SEPA, Dr Colin Gillespie is knowledgeable on the causes and effects of atmospheric pollution on the environment, including those responsible for local air quality. During his 16 year career, he has lead research programmes on the transportation, deposition and effects of environmental pollutants.

Prof Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health; Director, Environmental Research Group; Deputy Director of the MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health Frank holds the chair in Environmental Health at King's College London and is also Deputy Director of the MRC-HPA Centre for Environment & Health. He is involved in providing policy support to the WHO on air pollution issues and chairs the UK Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution.

Drew Hill, Senior Environmental Engineer, Transport Scotland Drew plays a leading role on strategic environmental issues concerning roads.  He has worked in the public and private sectors and has delivered civil engineering projects in the UK and overseas. Drew is currently involved in collaborative work with SEPA to address poor air quality in the urban environment.

Philip Glennie, Communities Manager, Sustrans Scotland Philip is the Communities Manager with Sustrans Scotland where he manages the behaviour change team working in schools, workplaces and communities.  He has worked for Transport Scotland, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, and local authorities on transport strategies and cycle-walk pathways. He is a keen cyclist and hopes to complete a triathlon soon.