New report released in the UK
A new report issued by the Royal College of Physicians states that the health impact of Britain’s air pollution is far more serious than previously thought. It states that UK air pollution is the cause of up to 40,000 premature deaths a year. The report also concludes that in addition to the negative effects on health, air pollution also creates very high costs for society and business.
The report highlights the fact that air pollution causes damage throughout lifetime, from a baby’s first weeks in the womb all the way through to old age. For example, lung function naturally develops throughout childhood, now there is clear evidence that long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution suppresses this process. Air pollution is also linked to the development of asthma and cardiovascular diseases in adults (heart disease and strokes). The most vulnerable groups include people in low income areas, those with other health issues such as obesity, heart and lung conditions as well as the elderly and the young.
The report presents an historical overview of air pollution. The London smog of 1952 also referred to as the “Big Smoke” killed 12,000 people. Today’s older generations who were brought up in the 1940s-1950s were exposed to soot and sulphur dioxide from coal burning, in the 1960s-1980s carbon monoxide and emissions from leaded petrol were the pollutants of concern. Today’s children inhale nitrogen dioxide and sub-micron particles, so called PM1 from diesel-fueled vehicles.
The fact that air pollution and climate change are intertwined is also underscored in the report. In other words, many strategies to decrease air pollution are also effective in slowing down climate change. One way to achieve these dual goals is to use energy more efficiently. Continue reading