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Tackle air pollution - royal colleges

Tuesday February 23rd, 2016

As many as 40,000 deaths a year in the UK are linked to air pollution, senior doctors say today.

Air pollution is a life-long problem for those affected, according to the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

The report calls for tough regulations on those responsible for pollution.

And it says councils should be able to close roads and divert traffic when air pollution limits are passed, especially near schools.

The report also warns of the effects of indoor air pollution from air fresheners, open fires, fly sprays, kitchen products and faulty boilers.

And it says the NHS should "lead by example," seeking to create clean air and safe workplaces.

The colleges say air pollution affects the development of the foetus before birth and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes later in life.

It is also linked to asthma, diabetes, dementia, obesity and cancer, they say.

Working party chair Professor Stephen Holgate said: "We now know that air pollution has a substantial impact on many chronic long term conditions, increasing strokes and heart attacks in susceptible individuals.

"We know that air pollution adversely effects the development of the foetus, including lung development. And now there is compelling evidence that air pollution is associated with new onset asthma in children and adults.

"When our patients are exposed to such a clear and avoidable cause of death, illness and disability, it our duty to speak out."

The working party's vice-chair, Professor Jonathan Grigg, professor of paediatric respiratory and environmental medicine at Queen Mary, University of London, said: "As NHS costs continue to escalate due to poor public health - asthma alone costs the NHS an estimated £1 billion a year - it essential that policy makers consider the effects of long term exposure on our children and the public purse.

"‘We therefore call on Government to monitor exposure to air pollution more effectively to help us identify those children and young people who are most at risk.

"We also ask the public to consider ways of reducing their own contribution to air pollution by taking simple measures such as using public transport, walking and cycling, and not choosing to drive high-polluting vehicles."

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Respiratory | Traveller Health | UK News

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