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According to the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee inquiry report published last week, the government has "failed to get to grips" with the human cost of air pollution.
The latest figures suggest that air pollution contributed to the premature deaths to of 200,000 people in Britain in 2008. And that treating victims of this pollution for lung and heart diseases costs up to £20 billion every year.
Studies also show that people who live near the busiest roads, typically those on lower incomes, have reduced life expectancies.
Despite these shocking statistics neither the Department of Transport nor the environment ministry, Defra, mention air quality in their business plans.
The government is also failing to meet agreed EU targets to limit pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. These two pollutants typically come from burning coal and from exhaust emissions.
Despite contravening EU laws on air pollution the government has avoided penalties by continually asking to extend the deadline for compliance. Most recently Defra has asked to extend the deadline to 2015.
Under agreed laws pollution levels of particulate matter must not exceed the legal limit by more than 35 days in a year. Yet by April this year it was reported that air pollution in London alone had exceeded this limit.
Sure Start cuts
Child poverty is likely to get worse due to cuts in Sure Start centres. Naomi Eisenstadt, former government adviser to the flagship scheme for children, has said that ministers "couldn't guarantee anything" for 3,500 centres.
The government has washed its hands of responsibility for these cuts saying that local authorities have enough cash to support Sure Start schemes.
However, some 124 children's centres have been closed since May 2010 and budgets have been slashed in 87% of local authorities in England this year. On average, real term budgets have been cut by 11% this year and are expected to be cut by 21% next year. The largest cut was in Hull where the budget was reduced by 56%.
Eisenstadt reckons that the neediest and most disadvantaged families will be the hardest hit by these cuts.
Drug trials in India, funded by western pharmaceutical firms, on victims of the Bhopal disaster, have led to the deaths of 14 patients.
The trials were carried out, without the patients' knowledge, at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital. This is the country's only hospital dedicated to treating the surviving 500,000 people affected by the deadly gas leak at the Union Carbide factory in December 1984 which killed up to 25,000 people.
More than 1,500 drug trials involving 150,000 patients have started across India since 2009 and at least 1,730 patients died between 2007 and 2010.
In The Socialist 16 November 2011:
Fighting the cuts
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
The Socialist - Readers' comments