ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have called for bold action to limit traffic emissions in Scotland after a new report showed links between air pollution and dementia.

The almost 300-page document, published on Monday by COMEAP, the UK Government’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants, suggests the most likely way that pollution impacts cognitive impairment is through circulation.

In the report's conclusions, it says succinctly: “Cognitive decline and dementia incidence have been almost consistently associated with exposure to air pollution.”

READ MORE: Keir Starmer asks Gordon Brown to help 'distinctly British' Labour economy plans

Environmental activists have said the Scottish Government and local authorities are not taking enough action to reduce pollution from transport and other sources.

Earlier this year, research by Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland found that Scotland breached air quality limits in 2021 after a historic low in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Transport emissions are Scotland’s largest emitter out of any sector, accounting for around 29% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

In Scotland's Climate Change Plan update (CCPu), published in December 2020, the Scottish Government committed to reducing car kilometres by 20 per cent by 2030 as part of the bid to reach net zero by 2045.

The National: The report said incidents of dementia and cognitive decline are 'almost consistently' linked to pollution The report said incidents of dementia and cognitive decline are 'almost consistently' linked to pollution

The COMEAP report also said: “It is our view that the epidemiological evidence is suggestive of an association between exposure to a range of air pollutants and a number of effects on the nervous system including the acceleration of cognitive decline and the induction of dementia.”

FoE Scotland’s transport campaigner Gavin Thomson said: “Today’s report from the UK Government is further evidence that air pollution is devastating for human health, and it’s really worrying to see the links with dementia being strengthened.

“We have known for a long time that traffic fumes cause asthma and heart conditions, and evidence has been growing about the risk that tiny particles - from exhaust fumes, tyres and brakes - pose to our cognitive health.

READ MORE: Eurovision: Glasgow WILL bid to host contest in 2023

“It is particularly dangerous for young children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing health conditions.”

Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee are set to have low emission zones (LEZs) brought in after the plans were approved by ministers and council chiefs.

LEZs have set an emissions limit for certain road spaces, restricting access for the most polluting vehicles to improve air quality. In Glasgow, busses are already subject to the measures with enforcement for other vehicles to come in in June 2023. For the other cities enforcement will begin in 2024.

The National: Some streets in Glasgow city centre frequently records the highest emissions in ScotlandSome streets in Glasgow city centre frequently records the highest emissions in Scotland

Thomson added: “This is the first action we’ve seen to tackle air pollution but it’s nowhere near enough.

“To improve air quality in our communities and neighbourhoods, we need significant investment in public transport so that everyone can access it, while providing more space for walking, wheeling and cycling.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Improving air quality and in turn the health of our people and planet is an urgent priority for this government and we’re taking action across the board to deliver this.

READ MORE: Anas Sarwar urged to clarify nationalisation stance amid confusion

“Scotland’s Low Emission Zones will provide real benefits for thousands of people in Scotland’s cities – they will reduce harmful emissions significantly and help to deliver air quality objectives. Protecting public health and improving air quality through LEZs are an important step forward for the wellbeing of our communities and environment.

“Last year, we published our updated air quality strategy, setting out how Scotland can achieve the best air quality in Europe.

"To make that happen, we’ve committed to reducing car kilometres by 20% by 2030. We’re also providing free bus travel for under 22s, over £500 million for bus priority infrastructure and investing a record £150 million on active travel in 2022-23, leading to an investment of at least £320 million per annum by 2024-25.

"We’ve invested over £113 million to support the manufacturing of new electric buses for Scotland, while at the same time investing a further £18 million through the Bus Emissions Abatement Retrofit (BEAR) programme to convert over 1000 buses and coaches to the required emissions standards.”

COSLA have been contacted for comment.