Air pollution taken seriously?

UK death rate from air pollution twice as high as the US

Evening Standard

UK pollution death rate worse than 'Brazil, Mexico and Argentina'

The UK's death rate from air pollution is twice as high as the US and worse than Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, the World Health Organisation revealed today.

Levels of PM10 and PM2.5 particulates in Britain are twice as high as in Sweden, the EU's cleanest nation, and worse than Portugal, Ireland and Spain.

And the UK has fallen from 17th to 22nd place in Europe in terms of the number of health workers per head of population - supporting concerns about the NHS being unable to cope with a growing, ageing and increasingly ill population.

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Ambient (outdoor) air quality and health

Outdoor air pollution is a major environmental health problem affecting everyone in developed and developing countries alike.

WHO estimates that in 2012, some 72% of outdoor air pollution-related premature deaths were due to ischaemic heart disease and strokes, while 14% of deaths were due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or acute lower respiratory infections, and 14% of deaths were due to lung cancer.

Some deaths may be attributed to more than one risk factor at the same time. For example, both smoking and ambient air pollution affect lung cancer. Some lung cancer deaths could have been averted by improving ambient air quality, or by reducing tobacco smoking.

A 2013 assessment by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that outdoor air pollution is carcinogenic to humans, with the particulate matter component of air pollution most closely associated with increased cancer incidence, especially cancer of the lung. An association also has been observed between outdoor air pollution and increase in cancer of the urinary tract/bladder.

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Chemistry World

Government releases plan to tackle nitrogen dioxide pollution

Draft air quality plan aims to bring UK emissions back down to legal levels

The UK’s plan to tackle nitrogen dioxide levels could include zones where additional congestion charges are applied to diesel vehicles, and improved emissions information for car buyers. The draft of the UK Air Quality Plan was published last week after attempts to postpone its release until after the general election were blocked by the high court.

‘The most immediate air quality challenge is tackling the problem of nitrogen dioxide concentrations around roads – the only statutory air quality obligation that the UK is currently failing to meet,’ it says. The supreme court ordered the government to come up with measures to tackle nitrogen dioxide after breaching emissions limits set by the EU.

The plan does include the goal of making ‘almost every car and van to be a zero emission vehicle by 2050’ and states that R&D for ultra-low emissions technology will be important. But it has been criticised for not doing enough to address nitrogen dioxide pollution from existing diesel vehicles.

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