Air pollution could cost more than 160,000 lives this decade, charity warns

Air pollution could cost more than 160,000 lives this decade, charity warns

Jacob West, executive director of healthcare innovation at BHF, said: “Every day, millions of us … are inhaling toxic particles which enter our blood and get stuck in our organs, raising our risk of heart attacks and stro-ke.

“Our toxic air is a public health emergency, and we haven’t done enough to tackle this threat to our society.”

Prof Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said: “With air pollution contributing to around 40,000 deaths a year and four in 10 children at school in high-pollution communities, it’s clear that tackling air pollution needs to be everyone’s urgent business.”

The UK subscribes to EU limits for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – the pollutant with the most established link to health harms – of 25 micrograms per meter cubed as an annual average.

However, the BHF is urging the Government to adopt more stringent WHO guidelines of 10 micrograms into the reintroduced Environment Bill, with a requirement that these limits are met by 2030.

At present, more than 70 local authorities would fail to meet this limit.

In July last year, the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs published findings showing that meeting the WHO guidelines was “technically feasible” in most areas by 2030.

David Renard, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said air quality plans needed to be “underpinned by local flexibility and sufficient funding”.

“Councils also need local powers to further tackle air pollution,” he added. “As air knows no boundaries, national accountability ultimately needs to sit with the Government.”

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