The damaging effects of air pollution

The damaging effects of air pollution

Data recently released by King’s College, London shows the devastating impact on people’s health of air pollution.

The study, by researchers at King’s College in conjunction with UK100, a network of local leaders, revealed that on days when air pollution is higher than normal, more cardiac arrests and hospitalisations are triggered as a result.

The survey shows that hundreds of children and adults suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, or are being sent to hospital as a result of strokes and severe asthma attacks on days when air pollution levels are higher than normal in nine major cities across England.

The cities in which the data was gathered include London, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton and show that on high air pollution days an additional 124 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests were recorded, 231 hospitalisations for strokes and 193 additional adults and children hospitalised for asthma.

The data, which will be published in full later this month, indicates the extra pressures that “high” air pollution days inflict on our already over-stretched NHS and emergency services.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said: ‘These new figures show air pollution is now causing thousands of strokes, cardiac arrests and asthma attacks, so it’s clear that the climate emergency is in fact also a health emergency.

‘Since these avoidable deaths are happening now, not in 2025 or 2050, we need to act now. For the NHS that is going to mean further comprehensive action – building on the reduction of our carbon footprint of one fifth in the past decade.’

Dr Heather Walton from King’s said: ‘The impact of air pollution on our health has been crucial in justifying air pollution reduction policies for some time, and mostly concentrates on effects connected with life-expectancy. However, health studies show clear links with a much wider range of health effects.

‘We have released a sample of these statements about the effects in a number of UK cities, ahead of publication of the full report later this month. This wider range of impacts on our health provides additional evidence of the important need for further action to help reduce air pollution.’

UK 100 network, which is involved in the research along with King’s College is a network of highly ambitious local government leaders who have pledged to secure the future for their communities by shifting to 100% clean energy by 2050.