NICE issues new draft guidance on reducing harmful effects of air pollution on nation's health

30 November 2016        

Category: BHF Comment

Air pollution

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today issued new draft guidelines on reducing the harmful effects that air pollution is having on the nation's health. 

According to NICE, 25,000 deaths a year in England, including those caused by heart and circulatory disease, can cite air pollution as a contributory factor. That's almost 5% of all deaths. Our research has already shown that breathing in high amounts of polluted air is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Road traffic is responsible for around a third of air pollution in urban areas, so has been highlighted by NICE as one of the priority areas to be addressed in order to tackle the issue in the UK. The draft guidance says local planners should 'consider using variable speed limits and average speed technology on the roadside to promote a smoother driving style' as part of a range of measures. 

The guidance has been developed for local authority staff in England and is currently out for consultation. 

'A step in the right direction' 

Responding to the announcement, our Head of Policy John Maingay said: “This guidance is a step in the right direction in tackling the UK’s dangerous levels of air pollution, which our research shows is increasing people’s risk of a heart attack or stroke.  It’s now important the consultation results in feasible guidance that allows local authorities to cut air pollution right across the country.

 "We’re committed to working with local and national Government to identify the measures that will put a stop to the UK’s dirty air needlessly putting lives at risk.”

Our research driving change

Last year BHF funded researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that recent exposure to air pollution increases the risk of hospitalisation or death from a stroke. Funding more of this research will be vital in informing future public health strategies that could bring down the UK's air pollution, limiting its harmful effects on many people's cardiovascular health.  

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