Towards the end of last year, top UK health bodies came together to demand change in the UK when it comes to how the government tackles the toxic air crisis. The legislation has already been in place for 60 years, but many believe it’s much in need of a shake-up to reflect the current battles the UK is facing against pollution.
The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC) is demanding that ministers introduce a brand new clean air act. This is by no means a sudden revelation, however, only recently have pollution levels reached such concerning levels that action needs to be taken immediately.
The director of the organisation believes that “the UK’s dirty air crisis has gone on too long, inflicting a large cost on our health, with children particularly vulnerable”. He is calling on the government to set out an agenda to ensure pollution levels are rapidly reduced, while also supporting local councils and the NHS.
Toxicity levels in London have long been well-above the legal limit. This means that a number of deaths have been closely linked to the extremely dangerous levels of air pollution. Furthermore, air pollution isn’t just limited to the capital. Across the UK harmful levels of air pollution have been documented. The World Health Organisation has warned that air pollution caused more than 7 million deaths worldwide, harming billions more. The chair of the British Medical Association’s board of science supports the UKHACC fight for a clean air act, saying “there is no time to lose to improve air quality as the scale of the problem is such that it requires a significant legislative overhaul if we are to see real lasting changes.”
The proposed clean air act would include regulations to improve air quality, which may also entail guidelines for businesses. The plan wants to expand clean air zones in towns and cities, as well as providing financial incentives to households and businesses to encourage more sustainable forms of travel.
In addition to this, businesses may wish to think ahead and take steps to lessen their contribution to poor pollution levels. This might include installing a ventilation system, or perhaps looking into the structure of their business and cutting out steps that may be doing more harm to the environment.
The biggest changes should be in our daily lives, according to the UKHACC. A small change such as cycling instead of driving to school can make a big difference. Responsibilities then fall down to the government to truly make a change. Whether or not they will draw up a new clean air act is yet to be seen, but all evidence suggests that significant changes need to be made sooner rather than later.
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