'Toxic' air quality on tubes could put people at risk of life-threatening asthma attack

Responding to a report by the Committee of Medical Effects of Air Pollutants published today [10 January 2019] revealing that pollution in tube stations 30 times higher than beside busy roads in capital, Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, said:

“It’s extremely worrying to know that people could be breathing in toxic air on the London Underground while going about their daily lives. An estimated 489,200* people in London with asthma could be affected by air pollution, leaving them struggling to breathe, in and out of hospital and at risk of a having a life-threatening asthma attack.

“Asthma UK has been campaigning for some time for the Government to put in place a new Clean Air Act which will help clean up pollution hotspots and keep everyone, especially those with asthma, safe.

“We advise people who have asthma triggered by pollution, to take their brown preventer inhaler as prescribed, follow their written asthma action plan and make sure that they have a yearly asthma review. Everyone with asthma should also carry their reliever inhaler with them at all times. For more information and top tips, visit: www.asthma.org.uk/pollution” 

For further information, please contact:

Rebecca Lewis, media officer, Asthma UK

Landline: 0207 786 5004

OOO: 07951 721 393


Notes to Editors:

*In Asthma UK’s report Falling Through The Gaps: Why More People Need Basic Asthma Care, we surveyed more than 7,000 people with asthma in the UK. Of the 601 people from London, 73.5% said air pollution triggered their asthma. To find the estimated number of people with asthma in the London who said air pollution triggered their asthma, we applied this proportion to the population of people with asthma in the London (665,000), to get a figure of 489,200.

Estimate of England prevalence from Health surveys. (Health survey for England, 2001; Scottish Health survey, 2003; Welsh Health survey, 2005/06; Northern Ireland Health and Wellbeing survey, 2005/06. Data accessed via UK Data Service). Estimate of prevalence in London based on England estimate and the proportion of the population living in London (14.79%) (From Office of National Statistics, 2008).