Public Health England outlines measures needed to improve air quality across the UK

11 March 2019        

Category: BHF Comment

The health body Public Health England (PHE) has today published a review of evidence on how to improve air quality in the United Kingdom.

The review aims to inform local and national Government on actions to improve outdoor air quality and health.

London view with air pollution 

Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure. There is strong evidence that air pollution contributes to the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and lung cancer, and exacerbates asthma.

The report outlines a number of interventions local authorities can take to improve air quality. The interventions included discouraging highly polluting vehicles from entering populated areas – for example with low emission or clean air zones.

Air pollution threatens heart health

Responding to the announcement, our Director of Healthcare Innovation, Jacob West, said: "The evidence is overwhelming; air pollution poses a serious threat to the nation's health, causing thousands of heart attacks and strokes each year. This report provides much-needed guidance on the best ways to improve air quality across the UK. A comprehensive and joined-up approach is needed, with interventions to tackle the major sources of health-harmful pollutants in the places where those who are most vulnerable to their effects are exposed. This includes introducing low emissions zones, investing in clean transport and encouraging the uptake of walking and cycling.

“But change will not be easy. Local authorities need to be given the money, power and support needed to improve air quality in their area.

“The upcoming Environment Bill is an unmissable opportunity for Government to commit to tackling air pollution by supporting local authorities to improve local air quality. This support must be spearheaded by a Government commitment to adopt tougher WHO limits for particulate matter into UK law in order to drive bold action and protect the nation’s health.”

Read about air pollution and your heart