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Joint select committee inquiry: improving air quality

The UK government's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Environmental Audit Committee, Health Committee and Transport Committee have jointly undertaken an inquiry into the effectiveness of the government’s efforts to tackle air pollution.

Although successive governments have introduced legislation to control air pollution since the Clean Air Act of 1956, around 40,000 deaths a year are linked to outdoor air pollution.

As the Royal College of Physicians' (RCP's) joint report with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) highlights, the harm from air pollution is not just linked to poor health over short periods but is a long-term problem with lifelong implications. The issue has clearly not been resolved and much more needs to be done to ensure people are protected from the harms associated with air pollution.

RCP recommendations

  • There needs to be more collaboration across government departments to ensure air quality targets are achieved.
  • Brexit must not be used as an opportunity to weaken laws and regulations relating to air pollution.
  • The UK government must work closely with local authorities to ensure they have the right powers and adequate funding to implement the changes needed to protect people from air pollution.
  • Government policies should seek to decrease pollution exposure, even where limits are met.
  • Air pollution monitoring by central and local government must track exposure to harmful pollutants in urban areas and near schools. These results should be communicated proactively to the public, in a clear way that everyone can understand so people can take adequate precautions to protect themselves.


For more information please contact Methela Haque, RCP senior public affairs adviser: methela.haque@rcplondon.ac.uk.