BHF backs plans for Clean Air Zone in Birmingham city centre

16 August 2018        

Category: BHF Comment

We have supported Birmingham City Council’s public consultation on plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone in the city centre.

A tram in the centre of Birmingham

A tram in the centre of Birmingham (Credit: Shutterstock.com). 

Under proposals for the Clean Air Zone, the most polluting vehicles will be charged to enter all roads within the A4540 Middleway ring road.

We believe the move must also be coupled with support to help more people find alternative ways to travel around Birmingham, including cycling and walking, which further benefits heart and circulatory health. 

Risks of air pollution on heart health

Road transport is a significant contributor to air pollution, with diesel vehicles in particular producing high levels of NO2 and particulate matter. 

Recent research we've funded has found that tiny nanoparticles, like those found in air pollution, can access the blood and build up in the plaques found in diseased blood vessels, making them more likely to rupture and cause a heart attack or stroke. 

Bold action must be taken

John Maingay, BHF’s Head of Policy, said: “Dangerous levels of air pollution are putting the heart health of the general public - both healthy individuals and particularly those with heart disease - at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke.

“In order to protect everyone living in Birmingham, it is vital that bold action is taken on air quality.  A Clean Air Zone in the city will be a crucial step forward, as this is the most cost-effective way to tackle polluted air and minimise the damaging effect that it has on people’s heart health.

“However, this is only the beginning and the work to tackle air pollution must go further. The Clean Air Zone will help bring Birmingham into compliance with current EU legal limits, but the Government will ultimately need to go beyond these limits if we are to fully protect the public’s health. 

“The current EU limits for particulate matter are much less stringent than those recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).That’s why we are continuing our call for Government to adopt

WHO air quality guidelines to protect the UK public from the negative effects of air pollution.”

Our air pollution research

We are continuing to fund research to help understand the impact of air pollution on the heart and circulatory system. Our researchers were the first to establish the mechanisms of how increased exposure to vehicle exhaust impacts the heart and circulatory system.

The council’s public consultation closes on Friday, 17th August. You can respond to the consultation on Birmingham City Council's website.

Read more about our air pollution research