The UK government has devised a Clean Air Strategy to reduce the impact of air pollution on the health of the public.
Air pollution represents the fourth largest threat to public health in the UK, behind cancer, obesity and heart disease. The Clean Air Strategy sets out air quality targets in line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO); and aims to cut the economic cost of air pollution by up to £1.7 billion (€1.94 billion) by 2020.
World Health Organisation Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Air pollution kills 7 million people globally every year, making it one of the largest and most urgent threats to global health of our time. I applaud the United Kingdom’s Clean Air Strategy, which will not only help to protect the health of millions of people; but is also an example for the rest of the world to follow.”
The primary goals of the Clean Air Strategy include:
- Introducing new legislation which will prohibit the sale of the most polluting fuels;
- Eliminating the sale of new high-pollution stoves by 2022;
- Encouraging low-emission farming practices to minimise the levels of ammonia in the air; and
- Updating existing legislation covering smoke control.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Air pollution poses the single greatest environmental threat to human health. Breathing dirty air is associated with a host of health problems, from asthma to cardiovascular disease and lung cancer, and all too often it is the most vulnerable – children, older people and those from poorer backgrounds – who are hit hardest. In short: clean air helps you live longer. No-one can tackle air pollution alone, so it is a duty of government to act for us all. We are determined to clean up our environment and are taking the lead with this Clean Air Strategy. We have made strides forward over the past few years and the action we are taking today will save lives and improve the health of the nation – both for those of us here today and for generations to come.”
A draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill has been drawn up and is expected to be put to the UK parliament in the near future.