17 January 2019

It's time to tackle air pollution

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has launched an ambitious new strategy to clean up UK air and save lives.

Air pollution is one of the biggest threats to public health in the UK along with cancer, obesity and heart disease.

Air quality has an impact on the health of our lungs and the entire respiratory system. Air pollution exposure can trigger new cases of asthma, exacerbate (worsen) a previously-existing respiratory illness, and provoke development or progression of chronic illnesses including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and emphysema.

 The measures outlined in the Clean Air Strategy will reduce the costs of air pollution to society by £1.7 billion every year by 2020, rising to £5.3 billion every year from 2030. Launching the Clean Air Strategy, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

"The evidence is clear. While air quality has improved significantly in recent years, air pollution continues to shorten lives, harm our children and reduce quality of life.

"We must take strong, urgent action. Our ambitious strategy includes new targets, new powers for local government and confirms that our forthcoming Environment Bill will include new primary legislation on air quality.

"While air pollution may conjure images of traffic jams and exhaust fumes, transport is only one part of the story and the new strategy sets out the important role all of us - across all sectors of work and society - can play in reducing emissions and cleaning up our air to protect our health."

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, said:

"Air pollution kills 7 million people globally every year, making it one of the largest and most urgent threats to global health of our time,

"I applaud the United Kingdom’s Clean Air Strategy, which will not only help to protect the health of millions of people but is also an example for the rest of the world to follow."

Read our article: What is air pollution doing to your lungs?

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