RCP welcomes government's clean air strategy

The RCP has responded to the launch of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (Defra's) clean air strategy.

Commenting on Clean Air Strategy 2019, which outlines the government's plans for dealing with all sources of air pollution, RCP special adviser on air quality Professor Stephen Holgate said:

The RCP welcomes the government's Clean Air Strategy 2019, especially the tightening up of the air quality limit for particulate matter over the next 10 years in line with World Health Organization (WHO) health-based guidelines. We wish to emphasise the importance of moving towards the WHO health-based limits for the other pollutants, particularly nitrogen dioxide. We also welcome the recognition of multiple pollutant sources and especially the role of indoor pollutants, and the need to control these with legislation.

We fully endorse the view that the health professions should take greater ownership of the air pollution problem as they have done with smoking and, as we said in our 2016 report Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution, lead by example. The RCP would be pleased to work with government to increase both professional and public understanding of this 'wicked' problem and what we can all do about it to make a difference, especially for vulnerable groups such as children and those with chronic diseases. The test for success will be effective delivery of the plan in real terms.

Notes to editors

In 2016 the RCP and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health published the groundbreaking report Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution. The report starkly set out the dangerous impact air pollution is currently having on our nation’s health. It estimated that each year in the UK around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution. which plays a role in many of the major health challenges of our day. It has been linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia. The health problems resulting from exposure to air pollution have a high cost to people who suffer from illness and premature death, to our health services and to business. In the UK, these costs add up to more than £20 billion every year.

For further information please contact RCP head of PR and public affairs Linda Cuthbertson on +44 07748 777919.