Call for biggest changes to air quality legislation in over 60 years

The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC) – the body of UK health professionals advocating for action on climate change to protect public health – is calling on government to implement the biggest shake up in air quality legislation since the middle of the last century.

Air pollution contributes to an estimated 40,000 deaths each year in the UK and costs the economy an estimated £22 billion.

UKHACC have published a new report to support this - MOVING BEYOND THE AIR QUALITY CRISIS Realising the health benefits of acting on air pollution. 

The report call for legally enforced air standards, governed by an independent statutory body to ensure consistently cleaner air across the UK, and the creation of an advisory group to advise government on air pollution, in much the same way as the Committee on Climate Change does on climate change issues.

Representing Medical Royal Colleges, the Royal College of Nursing, the British Medical Association, Faculty for Public Health, BMJ and The Lancet, they are calling for the implementation of a new Clean Air Act as one recommendation in its new report into air pollution launched today (29 October).

With children being among the most vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, the report coincides with the World Health Organisation highlighting the global impact of air pollution on children. As well as causing and aggravating respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchiectasis, air pollution can actually cause developmental problems of the lungs of infants, making them more vulnerable to these conditions in adulthood. Other effects include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, stroke and dementia.

According to UKHACC, a new Clean Air Act – whether part of a new environment act or a standalone piece of legislation – needs to reduce air concentration levels to as close to zero as possible in the shortest amount of time.

Today, the air pollution is visible and is causing another major public health crisis. This crisis results in 40,000 deaths each year and is caused largely by the use road vehicles. 

Download the report here.