Tighter restrictions on air pollution set by WHO: What does this mean for our air quality?
News broke this week that the World Health Organization (WHO) has revised its guidelines for recommended air pollution limits, meaning that the UK’s levels are now four times higher than those advised. The change follows recent research revealing that poor air quality has a much greater impact on human health than previously understood, and that millions of lives could potentially be saved by a reduction in pollution.
The UK has a long way to go, especially in cities across the country, which regularly breach air pollution limits. In fact, an article by The Times states that 96% of roads and 99.8% of schools are in poor air quality areas where levels of PM2.5 are extremely high. We recently discussed the effect that air pollution can have on young schoolchildren – it can be linked with absenteeism, poor exam performance, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
Many aspects of our daily lives impact on air pollution levels, including transport, wood burning and general household chemicals such as cleaning products – which can also affect our indoor air quality. But as professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of York and chairman of the government’s air quality expert group Alastair Lewis commented, there is optimism when it comes to the introduction of electric cars for example.
Stronger and better goals need to be set by the government. The Environment Bill currently going through parliament is a step in the right direction, but should be escalated in line with these latest WHO recommendations and findings.
Are you interested in finding out more about your local levels of air pollution? Try our onscreen checker here.