“The government has dragged its heels long enough" - commit to new air pollution targets charity urges

Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation responds to today's publication of the World Health Organisation's revised Air Quality Guidelines. She said:

“The government has dragged its heels long enough. With this latest WHO guidance, COP26 on the horizon and the Environment Bill going through parliament, now is the time for politicians to commit to world-leading air pollution targets to tackle the greatest environmental threat to human health.

"We have a front row seat to the devastation caused by breathing in dirty air which creates new lung conditions, worsens existing ones and triggers life-threatening asthma attacks, and it’s plain to see that the government’s current air quality legal limits are unfit for purpose.

"The WHO’s revised air quality guidelines set the bar for the ambition needed by this government, as well as world leaders, to prevent tens of thousands of early deaths each year.

"They also support the urgent need to safeguard those most at risk from toxic air, including all people with lung conditions, children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

"Our analysis shows that 99.8% of schools in England are in areas where air pollution exceeds the WHO’s new guideline limits, an increase of almost 70% from the 2005 guidelines.” 

"Without urgent intervention, toxic air will continue to blight the health of generations to come."