The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Take My Breath Away

23 February 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970

An important report from the RCP and the RCPCH looks at the premature death of 40,000 people in the UK and examines the impact of exposure to air pollution across the course of a lifetime.

The report – Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution – is a collaboration between the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health  (RCPCH) and starkly sets out the dangerous impact air pollution is currently having on our nation’s health.

Each year in the UK, approximately 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution which currently plays a role in many of the major health challenges. It has been linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity and changes linked to dementia.

The health problems resulting from exposure to air pollution have a high cost to people who suffer from illness and premature death, health services and to business. In the UK, these costs are estimated to add up to more than £20 billion every year.

The report also highlights the often overlooked section of our environment – that of indoor space. Factors such as, kitchen products, faulty boilers, open fires, fly sprays and air fresheners, can cause poor air quality in our workspaces, schools and homes.

As a result the report offers a number of major reform proposals setting out what must be done if we are to tackle the problem of air pollution. These include:

  • Put the onus on polluters. Polluters must be required to take responsibility for harming health. Political leaders at a local, national and EU level ‘must introduce tougher regulations’, including reliable emissions testing for cars.
  • Local authorities need to act to protect public health when air pollution levels are high. When these limits are exceeded, they ‘must have the power to close or divert roads to reduce the volume of traffic, especially near schools’.
  • Monitor air pollution effectively. Air pollution monitoring by central and local government must track exposure to harmful pollutants in major urban areas and near schools. These results should then be communicated proactively to the public in a clear way that everyone can understand.
  • Quantify the relationship between indoor air pollution and health. There must be a strengthening of understanding of the key risk factors and effects of poor our quality. A coordinated effort is required to develop and apply any necessary policy changes.    
  • Define the economic impact of air pollution. Air pollution damages not only physical health but also economic wellbeing. There needs to be further research into the economic benefits of well designed policies to tackle it.
  • Lead by example within the NHS. The health service must no longer be a major polluter, it must lead by example and set the benchmark for clean air and safe workplaces.

The report also emphasises how the public can do their part to reduce pollutant exposure. Noting the impact collective action can have on the future levels of air pollution in our communities.

"We all have a part to play to cut environmental pollution,” observed Professor Stephen Holgate, asthma expert at Southampton University and Chairman of the reporting group. “We can't see it, smell it or taste it, which is why people do not necessarily think we have a problem.”

Picture: Common perceptions of air pollution are of factories belching smoke of car exhausts but it can be doing harm in workplaces too as a recent report this week points out

Article written by Mike Gannon | Published 23 February 2016


Related Articles

London, New York - Two Sculptures, Different Inspirations

Two very different sculptures got special treatment in the week ending March 30 - New York's famous Fearless Girl was sponsored to stay standing-up to fear &...

 Read Full Article
Breathing Life Into London's Lungs As Pollution Death Rate Rises

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has strengthened his commitment to protect London’s Green Belt and other important open spaces for future generations and set out...

 Read Full Article
RBS Swings Environmental Axe In National Tree Week

In one year, the energy saving additive EndoTherm has helped RBS to reduce its energy consumption by 29% and carbon emissions by 10 tonnes. The new innovation, a...

 Read Full Article
All Aboard On The Air Quality Charabanc

Local authorities and bus companies in Bristol, York, Brighton, Surrey, Denbighshire and Wiltshire have been awarded 11 million funding under the government’s...

 Read Full Article
Workplace Week - Children In Need

Hello Fresh, Macquarie, Zpg, Expedia and Moo are just some of the big names participating in Workplace Week 2017 to showcase workplace innovation...

 Read Full Article
The Balancing Act

Monday Oct 2 marked the beginning of National Work Life Week, a campaign aimed at giving both employers and employees the opportunity to focus on creating that all...

 Read Full Article
Half Of British Offices Are Not Fit For Purpose

In the week ending Sept 22, Leesman launched ‘The Next 250k’, a global report based on the evaluation results from more than 250,000 employees across 2,200+...

 Read Full Article
Nine to Five & Five to Nine - We Want the Airwaves

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has encouraged leading TV and radio broadcasters to work with him to help inform Londoners in particular and the country as a whole about...

 Read Full Article
Air Action Due - Diesel and Petrol Banned?

  The government, in the form of Environment Minister Michael Gove, confirmed on Wednesday 26 that it will end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel...

 Read Full Article
Gov to Conquer GoT Nightmare

The government’s £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF) is set to unlock over £1 billion for full fibre broadband and kick-start...

 Read Full Article