Environmental lobby group groundWork has launched court proceedings against plans by the government to double  the allowed quota of harmful sulphur dioxide (SO2) emitted into the atmosphere. The changes to the minimum emissions standards double the amount of SO₂ — from 500mg/Nm3 to 1000mg/Nm3. But environmental justice group groundWork, which is represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), is calling on the court to set aside the government’s plan, saying these levels will threaten already heavily polluted areas where coal pollution kills thousands of people every year. SO2 is a notorious pollutant that can affect the respiratory system and lung function. Studies have found that SO2 is linked to low birth weight in infants and other pregnancy complications. Hospital admissions for cardiac disease and mortality increase on days with higher SO2 levels. SO2 also forms the main component of acid rain, sulphuric acid. “This is particularly dire for people living in those...

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