There is now also strong evidence suggesting that air pollution is linked to the development of asthma. Asthma UK is working not only to ensure people with asthma have information that helps them protect themselves from pollution, but also to try and improve the air quality in the UK.
Why is Asthma UK campaigning for cleaner air?
Air pollution is associated with the development and worsening of asthma in both children and adults.
We also know that:
- high spells of air pollution create peaks in GP visits and emergency hospitalisations
- adults and children with asthma feel at a greater risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack during times of high pollution
- pollution can also make people with asthma more sensitive to their usual asthma triggers (such as house dust mites, pollen, pets, moulds and fungi)
- children and young adults with asthma are more at risk from the effects of pollution because they have faster breathing rates, and their lungs are still developing.
The UK is currently failing to meet its current targets on limiting air pollution. This means that many pollutants that can affect asthma, such as nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulates - from traffic fumes, factories and industrial sites - continue to put people with asthma at risk.
What needs to change?
Coordinated measures are required at a local, national and European level to improve air quality. So far, we do not believe that enough has been done. We are partnering with other organisations to persuade the Government to take the lead and develop a new clean air act to be debated in Parliament. Our aim for this is to clean up air pollution hotspots and ensure people with asthma can stop worrying about the air that they breathe and prevent asthma attacks.
We know that people with asthma find traffic pollution a particular problem, discouraging them from exercising or walking in congested areas. The government should consider including measures aimed at reducing exposure to air pollution in these areas, such as increased pedestrianisation and reductions in the vehicles that pollute the most, in a clean air act.
What is Asthma UK doing to protect people from pollution?
- Asthma UK works in partnership with the Healthy Air Campaign to try and encourage behaviour that helps cut air pollution and persuade government to take action to comply with legal limits for air quality.
- We are working with decision makers, such as the Mayor of London, to represent people with asthma and to try to improve air quality and reduce pollution.
- We are calling for more tech development that includes easy access to alerts on air quality to help people with asthma protect themselves.
- We are calling for more funding for research into pollution and asthma so that we can better understand the role air pollutants have and find ways to combat their effects.
- We provide fully evidenced health advice on managing your asthma triggers, including detailed advice on dealing with poor air quality.
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