People of colour three times more likely to live in areas with high air pollution

In England, people of colour are three times more likely to live in areas with high air pollution, according to new research by environmental organization Friends of the Earth. These areas have pollution levels that are double World Health Organization (WHO) standards for at least one of the two most deadly air pollutants, the study found.

Over one million under 18s and nearly three quarters of a million under 12s live in neighbourhoods where air pollution is double recommended health standards. There are 1,737 schools in these areas.

Road traffic is the major threat to clean air, but poorer communities and people of colour are disproportionately exposed to high levels of air pollution despite having lower car ownership.

Friends of the Earth point out that the situation may actually be much worse, as the latest data is from 2020, which included lockdowns.

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah is Founder and Director of the Ella Roberta Foundation , which was set up following the tragic death of Rosamund’s nine-year-old daughter Ella in 2013 from a severe asthma attack contributed to by air pollution. She said:

“This latest data is shocking, but unsurprising. It re-emphasises the urgency with which our country, and London particularly, needs action on air pollution.

“Everyone deserves a right to breathe clean air, particularly children, who are worst impacted because their lungs are still developing.”

The Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill has gained strong cross-party support in the House of Lords and represents a huge opportunity to clean up the air in England’s towns and cities. To show your support for the Bill, please sign and share the petition here.


Image: Cecilia Piovan, CC BY-SA 4.0


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