British Medical Journal (BMJ): Air pollution is a public health emergency

In an editorial for the British Medical Journal, Professor Stephen Holgate, special adviser to the government on air quality, has described air pollution as “a public health emergency” and called for much swifter action to bring air pollution down to within WHO guideline levels:

“PM2.5 is undoubtedly an invisible killer, but its effects are clear to see: increased risk of asthma attacks on high pollution days and more hospital admissions for heart and lung diseases. Polluted air triggers strokes and heart attacks, exacerbates respiratory illnesses, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and can stunt children’s lung growth. The result is not just premature deaths, but more years spent in ill health, and more avoidable pressure on the health system.

“Air pollution, both outside and indoors, is a major driver of health inequalities, with the most deprived UK communities and those from ethnic minority backgrounds more likely to live in polluted areas.”

Professor Holgate concludes: “The government must commit to reducing PM2.5 to 10 μg/m3 by 2030, with the ultimate objective of reducing annual mean concentration to 5 μg/m3 in line with the latest WHO health-based air quality guideline values. The nation’s health depends on it.”

This is exactly what the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill (Ella’s Law) is designed to achieve.

Read the editorial in the British Medical Journal here (pdf).

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