Following several protests, campaigns and a court ruling, the UK government recently published its latest air quality plan. Unfortunately, the plan has failed to deliver on previously made promises.
Britain’s toxic air is estimated to cause a death toll in London of more than 9000 each year. The most vulnerable, such as children and the elderly, suffer the most. Statistics and findings such as these have dominated national news headlines over the last year, resulting in a string of campaigns and court cases. This has therefore put an immense amount of pressure on the government to act now and clean up Britain’s air.
Theresa May had earlier acknowledged the importance of air quality when responding to a letter, signed by more than 220 doctors, urging the government to tackle the nation’s toxic air problem. She described it as the fourth largest risk to public health, behind only cancer, obesity and cardiovascular disease. She then declared that she would strengthen anti-pollution measures (Ref 1).
However, despite this, the new plan has failed to deliver on her ambitious promises.
The new air quality plan has been described as a “half-formed”, “weak” and “incoherent” proposal that lacks detail (Ref 2). It includes the introduction of non-charging clean air zones that many have dubbed ineffective. Speaking of the proposal, ClientEarth CEO, James Thornton said: “on the face of it, it looks much weaker than we had hoped for”.
The poor air quality that plagues our country is a crisis which affects millions. The government has a moral obligation to protect citizens and should therefore be taking stricter measures to do so.
Whilst the air outside may be toxic, keeping indoor air clean and free of harmful pollutants is also vital. Individuals can spend up to 80% of their day indoors, either at work or at home. Ensuring that these indoor environments provide protection from harmful outdoor pollutants is important for health and well-being.
One of the most effective ways of improving indoor air quality is installing high specification air purification. These types of system can neutralise all three types of serious air pollutants, which can lead to short and long-term ill-health:
- Airborne bacteria and viruses (0.001 microns) that cause infectious illnesses. These include influenza, colds, tuberculosis, chickenpox and c.difficile.
- Airborne particulates that cause allergies. These include pollen, fungal spores, dust mites, pet dander and tobacco smoke.
- Airborne toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These include nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, fumes and unpleasant odours, such as that from car exhausts.
Ref 1: “Theresa May: toxic air pollution is fourth biggest health risk behind cancer, obesity and heart disease”, The Evening Standard
Ref 2: “The Guardian view on May’s air pollution plan: all mouth, no trousers”, The Guardian
Ref 3: “UK Government releases “weak” air quality plans” ClientEarth