Toxic air putting half a million children with asthma at risk

Responding to ‘Healthy Air For Every Child’, a report published today [Tuesday 5 February] by Unicef UK which reveals 88% of child health experts say toxic air is causing health problems for children, Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, said:

“It is extremely alarming that so many children across the UK are breathing in toxic, poisonous air, putting many at risk of developing asthma or having a potentially fatal asthma attack.

 “An estimated half a million* children with asthma could be affected by pollution, putting them at risk of a life-threatening asthma attack. Children’s lungs are also stunted by exposure to pollution, which means they are more likely to develop asthma**.

“It is vital that the Government combats air pollution to protect the health of future generations. As a member of the Healthy Air Campaign, Asthma UK supports Unicef’s call for a legally-binding commitment from the government to meet pollution targets.

“We advise children who have asthma triggered by pollution to take their brown preventer inhaler as prescribed to soothe the inflammation in their sensitive airways and make them less likely to react to asthma triggers. Parents should make sure their children have and follow their written asthma action plan (which sets out how to recognise and manage worsening symptoms) and make sure that they have an asthma review with their GP or nurse at least once a year.

“Everyone with asthma should also carry their reliever inhaler (usually blue) with them at all times in case of emergency. If children with asthma are affected by pollution, it may help to avoid pollution hotspots like junctions and bus stations and stick to back streets where pollution levels are lower. For more information and top tips, visit:” 


For further information, please contact:

Rebecca Lewis, media officer, Asthma UK

Landline: 0207 786 5004

OOO: 07951 721 393

For more information, please contact the Asthma UK media team on, 020 7786 4949 (during office hours) or 07951 721393 (outside of office hours).



* From Asthma UK’s report Falling Through The Gaps: Why More People Need Basic Asthma Care, 46.2% of children under the age of 17 or under said air pollution was a trigger for their asthma (most were answered by a parent on their behalf). To find the estimated number of children with asthma in the UK who said air pollution triggered their asthma, we applied this proportion to the population of children with asthma in the UK (1.1million), to get a figure of 508,200.


**From ‘Impact of London's low emission zone on air quality and children's respiratory health: a sequential annual cross-sectional study’


About Asthma UK

  • In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12).
  • Every day, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one to an asthma attack, and tragically two thirds of these deaths are preventable.
  • Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma. We do this by funding world leading research, campaigning for improved care and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.
  • The Asthma UK Helpline is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 0300 222 5800.
  • For more information about asthma please visit


This colourful ‘My Asthma Plan’ is designed especially for children age from six to 11. Fill it in with their GP or asthma nurse. It lists the medicines your child needs to take every day to stay well, what to do if their asthma gets worse, and what to do in an asthma attack. 

Download children’s action plan