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Air quality on estate so bad alarm advised mother and children to leave at once

19 Mar 2021 3 minute read
A picture of the smoke blanketing Glasdir Estate, Ruthin Pic: Sarah-Jane Bell.

Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter

A mum has told how the air quality near her home is so bad it caused a monitoring alarm to activate advising her family to leave their property at once.

Residents of Glasdir estate in Ruthin had complained to Denbighshire council and Natural Resources Wales of “intermittent” bouts of acrid smoke invading their homes for around seven months.

Emily Boucekkine, 32, who lives on the estate, says she has made numerous phone calls and sent “lots” of emails to the local authority and NRW raising her concerns.

Mrs Boucekkine, who has a daughter aged five-months and a three-year-old son, said she regularly has to shut her windows because of the smoke clouds drifting across the family housing estate, which she believes are coming from a nearby industrial estate.

She and husband Liam, 33, even bought an air quality monitor which measures particulate matter hoping it would “reassure” them everything was safe. But on Tuesday night the alarm activated and advised her to “leave the area”.

She said:  “We were hoping to be reassured but it’s had the opposite effect. It said on the monitor the smoke is hazardous to health and advised we leave the area.

“We’ve even bought an air purifier, which has helped the air quality readings. This problem was going on when I brought my five-month-old back from hospital.

“It concerned me because second-hand smoke can cause sudden infant death syndrome.”

On Tuesday night her ‘Breathe’ air quality monitor displayed a reading of 500 inside her home, the maximum possible, after smoke from what she said smelled “like burning wood” permeated the house.

The monitor’s manufacturer states readings of 301-500 are “hazardous” and warns of “emergency conditions” in which the “entire population is likely to be affected”. Other residents have reported odours of “burning rubber”.

Mrs Boucekkine said the smells are mostly outside of the house and had been occurring intermittently, mostly at night and once or twice a week on average.

She added: “The fact it’s still happening is disgraceful and disgusting. If this was a neighbour having a bonfire every night we would be calling the police and it would be acted on instantly.”

Site visit

However Denbighshire council has said it is looking into the reports. A spokesman for Denbighshire council said: “We are aware of another pollution incident in the area over the last few days.

“Officers have been continuing with site visits to discuss measures being taken to avoid such incidents.

“Further equipment has been purchased by the site operator which is hoped will reduce them. A further site visit is planned for next week.”

Local county councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts said it was understandable residents wanted to know whether the smoke was dangerous.

He said he had asked the council to purchase a calibrated air quality monitor which could be sited on the estate, to collate information for “a long time”.

He added: “I’m also calling for Denbighshire council to set up an out of hours phone number so residents can report issues instantly – and an email group to discuss any problems.”

Cllr Hilditch-Roberts also wants the council to arrange a site visit on the industrial estate so residents can see the processes used for themselves.

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