COVID-19 has changed how we live and work. It has also shown how it is possible for government to act swiftly and decisively, and for behaviour change to occur at scale. Poor air quality is the biggest environmental health issue facing the UK, linked to an estimated 64,000 deaths a year, disproportionately affecting disadvantaged communities, and tackling this crisis should be at the top of everyone’s agenda.
This is the call from academics and experts at The University of Manchester in a new publication, On Air quality. The report is published today to coincide Clean Air Day, which aims to bring together communities, businesses, schools and the health sector to improve public understanding of air pollution and build awareness of how air pollution affects our health.
Since the great smog of 1952 killed 4000 people in London, “We’ve known for a long time that air pollution is bad for our health and for the environment” says Mary Creagh in the foreword for the publication. Mary is the Chief Executive of Living Streets, the charity for everyday walking, and former Member of Parliament for Wakefield, and chair of the House of Commons Environmental Audit select Committee.
“Now research tells us about the harmful effects of exposure to particulate matter from tyres and stoves. Each time, knowledge has ultimately informed the policy and legislation needed to take appropriate action. This is why we welcome this timely publication.”
On Air Quality, published by Policy@Manchester, The University of Manchester’s policy engagement unit, is released ahead of the UK Government’s next-stage consideration of the Environment Bill which is due to be discussed at Committee Stage in the House of Lords on June 21. The bill is aimed at cleaning the country’s air, restoring natural habitats and increasing biodiversity, but is the bill in its current form enough?
Read On Air Quality online.