Statistics report that air pollution is at a record high, claiming the lives of over 50,000 UK residents each year. More specifically, over 9,000 Londoners are dying prematurely each year as a result of toxic air. Furthermore, MP’s have declared UK air pollution as a Public health emergency, insisting drastic improvements need to be made. Air pollution is reaching crisis point, and is responsible for more deaths in Britain than most of our European neighbours. We look at the main causes of air pollution, and the impact this invisible problem has on our health.
What causes air pollution?
Many factors affect our clean air, but do we know the causes and can we minimise the risk of exposure? Most of the air pollution we cause results from road traffic and industrial emissions. Over the years, Diesel and Petrol emissions have been poorly controlled, resulting in reduced air quality in areas such as London. Approximately 50% of air pollution comes from road transport and 40% comes from Diesel.
Other factors challenging air quality are industrial sites emitting harmful chemicals and construction works causing dust, fumes and solvent pollution. Domestic pollution also plays a part with log fires, burning coal, oil, natural gas, and home energy usage increasing.
How air pollution can impact your health
Breathing polluted air mostly affects the respiratory and inflammatory systems. In some cases this can put you in a higher risk for asthma, diabetes and obesity. It can also lead to more serious conditions such as cancer, strokes, heart disease and even changes linked to dementia. The World health organisation states air pollution is responsible for 34% of strokes, 27% of heart disease, 36% of lung disease worldwide. In addition to health issues, air pollution also affects our health services costing an estimated £20 Billion each year.
In 2008 a study estimated there are over 4,267 additional deaths annually in London from pollutants in the air
Global awareness of air pollution is on the rise. And just because we can’t see it, smell it or taste it, doesn’t mean the issue isn’t there. We all have a part to play to cut environmental pollution, and sustainability holds the key. Encouraging new behaviors and innovative solutions will help to change statistics, and save lives.
The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it
Tackling air pollution is a huge challenge, but what better place to start than in the heart of the UK. Creating healthy air and ‘clear air’ zones within London is achievable, with both behavioural change and cutting edge technology. There is so much that can be done to help improve the air we breathe and one small step can lead to giant leaps. It’s time to start giving back to the environment, and create a greener world for now, and for future generations.