Air Pollution - Reducing the Quality of Life for Us All; the British Lung Foundation (BLF) in Wales Claims Our Country Is Facing a PS1bn Toxic Air Crisis. Here Joseph Carter, the Charity's Head, Outlines the Detrimental Impact Air Pollution Is Having on Our Nation's Health

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), October 23, 2019 | Go to article overview

Air Pollution - Reducing the Quality of Life for Us All; the British Lung Foundation (BLF) in Wales Claims Our Country Is Facing a PS1bn Toxic Air Crisis. Here Joseph Carter, the Charity's Head, Outlines the Detrimental Impact Air Pollution Is Having on Our Nation's Health


Byline: Joseph Carter

FROM our first breath to our last, the air we inhale is constantly changing, and it's the quality of that air that can have a major impact on our wellbeing. Whether it's defined by where we live and work or the daily choices we make, while the sources vary there is only one outcome of which we can be sure - Wales is facing a PS1bn toxic air crisis and we have to do something about it.

In March 2019, the Welsh Government declared a climate emergency, but within that declaration little attention was paid to the detrimental effect our carbon culture, heavy reliance on cars and the resulting toxic air is having on our health.

As we await the announcement of a new Clean Air Plan, new research findings are being released which reveal more devastating repercussions for the clean air deficit we have created.

From increased childhood asthma cases, to dementia and mental health, the toxic air burden continues to grow, putting a strain on our health, our families and our NHS.

| WHAT IS AIR POLLUTION? An air pollutant is any substance in the air that could harm people. Particulate matter, known as PM, and NO2 are particularly damaging.

High concentrations of pollutants can be found in most UK towns and cities.

| WHAT DO PM AND NO2 MEAN? Particulate matter (PM) is a complex mixture of solids and liquids, including carbon, complex organic chemicals, sulphates, nitrates, mineral dust, and water suspended in the air.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a poisonous gas. NO2 is a primary pollutant emitted directly as a by-product of burning fuels.

Since 2010, the UK has exceeded EU annual legal limits for nitrogen dioxide.

| CHILDREN AND AIR POLLUTION Before we take our first breath, air pollution is influencing the way we develop.

A UK-based study, which included Dr S Kotecha, a research associate at Cardiff University School of Medicine, identified up to a 50% increase in infant deaths in the UK attributed to air pollution.

Further studies have also made links to low birth weight and premature birth, which result in reduced lung function.

Earlier this year we also saw that air pollution had seen a 33% increase in the number of childhood asthma cases across Europe, with the UK on par with China and the US at 19% prevalence.

Children's developing lungs are more prone to the effects of air pollution.

While their small stature means they are closer to exhaust pipes as they walk along busy roads, contrary to popular belief it is not safer to drive in the car.

In-car pollution provides greater exposure to a build-up of these harmful particles and when paired with reduced activity, poses a much greater risk to your child's health.

It's important that we improve air quality around schools and play areas to reduce daily exposure to air pollution.

Campaigns for anti-idling, exclusion zones and 20mph zones have all started with the aim of achieving this goal.

The school run is said to contribute most to children's exposure to air pollution which is why it is important we see a shift towards active travel and public transport.

That is not to say we shouldn't be aware of the risks of indoor air pollution at home, but one generation ago over 70% of children walked to school, this has now fallen to under half of all children in Wales.

This cannot be the legacy we leave for future generations, which is why we must act now.

| WORKING AND TRAVEL Commuter traffic is another major contributor to air pollution.

In Cardiff alone, around 90,000 cars come into the city in a 24-hour period.

A study by Public Health Wales (PHW) found that air pollution could be linked to 220 deaths in the Cardiff and Vale area with a wider mortality burden of 2,000 lives across Wales.

Earlier in the year another study revealed a major source of particulate matter was the wear on tyres and road surfaces. …

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Air Pollution - Reducing the Quality of Life for Us All; the British Lung Foundation (BLF) in Wales Claims Our Country Is Facing a PS1bn Toxic Air Crisis. Here Joseph Carter, the Charity's Head, Outlines the Detrimental Impact Air Pollution Is Having on Our Nation's Health
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