Air pollution is now one of the biggest threats to public health in the UK. Almost six in ten deaths related to air pollution worldwide are due to heart disease or stroke.
Research by British Heart Foundation suggests that even short-term inhalation of elevated concentrations of particulate matter increases the risk of a heart attack. Moreover, the study found that the particles in diesel exhausts could contribute to the development of atherosclerosis – the furring of the arteries.
Concerning health issues, the UK government has launched a Clean Air Strategy, that aims to reduce human exposure to particulate matter, small particles in air pollution which pose the greatest threat to human health.
The Government has outlined plans to set a more ambitious long-term target to reduce people’s exposure to PM2.5 – the most dangerous particles for health. It will publish evidence early in 2019 to examine what action would be needed to meet the WHO’s guideline limits.
However, while these are positive first steps, the BHF believes that we need more stringent limits to be put in place now, to drive bold and ambitious action that will protect the UK’s heart and circulatory health.
Speaking about the devastating impact of air pollution, and the BHF’s response to the new strategy, our Chief Executive Simon Gillespie said:
“Thousands of lives are lost every year in the UK because the air we breathe contains dangerous particles damaging our hearts, our blood vessels, our lungs and possibly even our brains. The evidence showing air pollution’s disastrous impact on our national health is well established, strong and continues to grow. Dirty air now represents one of the greatest public health threats facing our generation.”
“The Clean Air Strategy outlines a number of important ambitions to protect people across England, and more widely across the UK, from the most harmful pollutants. It’s reassuring that the Government will publish evidence on how the World Health Organization’s recommended air pollution guidelines can be reached. But we urgently need these guidelines adopted into national law, to accelerate coordinated, bold and ambitious action that will protect people’s heart and circulatory health wherever they live in the UK.”
In their Clean Air Strategy, published today, the government promises to set a “bold new goal” to reduce particulates across much of the country by 2030.
Moreover, it complements three other UK government strategies: the Industrial Strategy, the Clean Growth Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan.