Air pollution is a serious and urgent health issue that is linked with the causative factors of climate change, the burning of fossil fuels. The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes air pollution as the single biggest environmental health risk.
It is linked to a wide range of health conditions, from respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD, to heart disease, reduced fertility, decreased birth weight and reduced cognitive development in children.
Air pollution is generated both inside and outside the home, and disproportionately affects younger people, pregnant women, those with heart and lung conditions. People living in areas of deprivation have greater exposure to air pollution.
The recommendations from the coroner’s report of the death of Ella Adoo Kissi-Debra, recorded air pollution as a cause of death for the first time. Action needed to prevent future deaths included a requirement for professional organisations to ensure education for healthcare professionals to enable them to advise patients of the risks of air pollution and how to avoid exposure to toxic air. The following video has been created for Clean Air day 2022.
The Global Action Plan Knowledge Hub for Health Professionals provides downloadble resources and training videos for healthcare professionals on air pollution.
Every breath we take is a joint report from the RCP and RCPCH on lifelong impact of air pollution.
The UK government recently stated that they will aim to improve air quality over the next 20 years – but their target is still double the 2021 WHO target for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5). For more information on targets for air quality, see the 2021 updated guidance WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines. We must demand faster and more ambitious action (see Action for Clean Air).