A new joint report from the UK’s Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health details the health impacts of air pollution. The report makes several recommendations, including:
Put the onus on polluters.
Polluters must be required to take responsibility for harming our health. Political leaders at a local, national and EU level must introduce tougher regulations, including reliable emissions testing for cars.
Local authorities need to act to protect public health when air pollution levels are high.
When these limits are exceeded, local authorities must have the power to close or divert roads to reduce the volume of traffic, especially near schools.
Monitor air pollution effectively.
Air pollution monitoring by central and local government must track exposure to harmful pollutants in major urban areas and near schools. These results should then be communicated proactively to the public in a clear way that everyone can understand.
Quantify the relationship between indoor air pollution and health.
We must strengthen our understanding of the key risk factors and effects of poor air quality in our homes, schools and workplaces. A coordinated effort is required to develop and apply any necessary policy changes.
Define the economic impact of air pollution.
Air pollution damages not only our physical health, but also our economic wellbeing. We need further research into the economic benefits of well designed policies to tackle it.
Lead by example within the NHS.
The health service must no longer be a major polluter; it must lead by example and set the benchmark for clean air and safe workplaces.
The report can be accessed here.