The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is campaigning for the implementation of a range of recommended actions to tackle air pollution across central and local government, the NHS and the economy.
The RCP and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) report Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution set out a range of recommendations:
- The government must introduce a clean air bill for the 21st century. It must tackle the modern sources of air pollution, safeguard the legal protections that we could be stripped of on leaving the EU, and improve on existing legislation to enshrine the right to breathe clean air.
- The government must promote alternatives to cars fuelled by diesel and petrol, including zero and ultra-low emission vehicles. It must also invest in active travel, such as walking and cycling.
- The NHS, patient charities and medical royal colleges must do more to educate health professionals, policy makers and the public about the serious harm caused by air pollution.
Each year in the UK, around 40,000 deaths are attributable to outdoor air pollution. The economic cost of outdoor air pollution is around £20 billion a year.
While air pollution is harmful to us all, people who are older, live in deprived areas, have pre-existing conditions or live near busy roads are at greater risk. Our most deprived communities are exposed to some of the worst outdoor and indoor air quality, contributing to the gap in life expectancy of nearly 10 years between the most and the least affluent communities.