Clean air

Air pollution is the single biggest environmental threat to health.

There is no safe amount for anyone to breathe in, yet levels in the UK are extremely damaging to our health. Much of this pollution is coming from vehicle emissions, especially from older diesel engines.

It is having a devasting impact on your lungs

It can stunt the growth of children’s lungs, worsen existing lung conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, and cause new lung conditions like lung cancer.

Some people are more susceptible to harm

Air pollution can affect us all, but we know that pregnant women, children, older people, people living with lung conditions and those on the lowest incomes are being hit the hardest. This is likely to include people experiencing long-term breathing challenges from COVID-19.

We need change

We want policy makers to:

  • Set out ambitious clean air laws that are underpinned by world-leading health targets to safeguard people’s health and deliver cleaner air as soon as possible.
  • Publish new plans to protect people from air pollution that seek to address health inequalities and defend those at higher risk.
  • Vastly improve public information on air pollution by establishing air pollution alerts, funding public health campaigns and training health professionals. To make sure those most vulnerable can protect themselves.
  • Set out funding and guidance for traffic reduction measures around care homes, schools and hospitals so that pollution reduction is targeted to the areas where at-risk groups are most likely to be.
  • Commit to inclusive walking and cycling policies that enable everyone to be part of the solution to toxic air. This should include the funding and extension of safe cycling paths, the banning of pavement parking and financial support for e-bike purchases.

Lily’s old school was in an area with very high pollution levels, despite being near a park and off the main road. We didn’t realise how bad it was until her friend’s mum, Ruth, borrowed an air quality monitor. The results showed regular spikes of nitrogen dioxide well above legal limits.”

Fidaa and Lily, Manchester

Read more: Invisible threat report and clear the air report