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RCP responds to UK government’s Clean Air Strategy launch

The RCP's response to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra's) new clean air strategy, which will be officially launched by environment secretary Michael Gove later today. 

Commenting on the clean air strategy, Professor Stephen Holgate, special advisor to the RCP on Air Quality and Medical Research Council clinical professor, University of Southampton, said:

Today’s publication of the government’s clean air strategy is a step in the right direction but needs to go further and more quickly on tackling the rising toll we know pollution is taking on people’s health.

We welcome the focus on protecting health but a far more aggressive approach is needed to tackle the pollution generated by road transport, especially from diesel vehicles. While individuals can – and must be encouraged – to take action to reduce their own emissions, ultimately responsibility for tackling this issue rests with national and local government.

With 40,000 premature deaths annually currently linked to outdoor air pollution alone, there is no safe level of pollution and all our efforts should be focused on adhering to World Health Organisation (WHO) safe limits on air particulate matter. One area breaching these levels in the UK is one too many. We must not ignore either the growing threat of indoor air pollution, an issue we are participating in a national working party set up by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to address.

The RCP is looking forward to digesting the strategy in more detail and will submit formal feedback by the consultation deadline.