Shocking new figures obtained from research done by a health watchdog has indicated that 25,000 people die annually in England due to air pollution exposure.
Public Health England has now asked local authorities to step up procedures to protect people from this harmful pollution.
The highest number of fatalities was recorded in South East England. In this region 4,034 people over 25 years of age died because of air pollution. The next on the list is the North West where 3,427 deaths occurred. London experienced 3,389 deaths which were linked to its poor air quality. The other regions of England recorded figures between two and three thousand, except for the North East where 1,199 deaths were recorded.
Last week, large sections of England and Wales experienced extremely high levels of pollution. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) predicted that the highest levels would be suffered throughout the country. The pollution was caused by emissions from the continent, domestic pollution, a lack of south-easterly winds and dust from the Sahara Desert. The air was cleared on Friday by a production of fresh air.
The latest death estimates were obtained from long-term pollutant exposure, not short-term as was experienced last week. However, health officials have stated that short-term exposure can initiate adverse reactions, such as an adverse effect on lung function and an increase in asthma attacks.
The estimates of deaths linked to air pollution are calculated by using average yearly concentrations of man-made particles that are below 2.5 microns diameter, and the effect it has on people’s health.
PHE has stated that there has been a considerable improvement in air quality in the UK during the past few decades. This was due to improved environmental legislation and cleaner technology. However, it stated that local action needs to be introduced to reduce man-made particle emission and exposure to pollution.
This can be achieved by commuters walking or cycling to work instead of using their vehicles. The design of green spaces and implementation of low emission strategies would improve the air quality.
Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, has stated that pollution should be one of the main priorities for politicians and that it was a national disgrace. She said that tougher measures should be introduced to tackle the problem, particularly as far as traffic pollution goes.
Image credit: Jonathan Kershaw