Air pollution: UK in a national crisis mode

Air Pollution: Recent findings from a study by researchers at King’s College London have revealed that air pollution poses greater short-term health risks than once thought. High levels of air pollution in the UK causes hundreds more heart attacks, strokes, and acute asthma attacks each year.

It is widely known and understood that air pollution can have harmful long-term effects on the lungs, including stunted lung growth and lung cancer. The aforementioned study by King’s College London involved nine cities: Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton (1)(4).

On days with high levels of air pollution across the nine cities, researchers calculated that there would be a total of 231 additional hospital admissions for stroke, as well as an additional 193 children and adults admitted for asthma treatment .

The greatest risk was found to be in London where days with high levels of pollution were found to cause an additional 87 cardiac arrests, an additional 144 strokes, and 74 children and 33 adults hospitalized for asthma (4)

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England has described these findings as “a health emergency”. With these findings comes the realization that current policies may be inadequate as current policies regarding the reduction of air pollution tend to exclusively focus on long-term health consequences with no action plan for the potentially devastating short-term health effects. 

These findings were released ahead of the International Clean Air Summit, hosted by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the UK100 this week. The UK100 is comprised of UK government leaders who have committed to shifting their communities to 100% clean energy by 2050. The full report from King’s College London is set to be published in November.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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About the Author /

Aman is born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She is a graduate from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Kinesiology with a focus on environmental science and international development. Aman is passionate about making a positive difference in mitigating the human impact on the environment. In addition, Aman is keenly interested in public health, animal agriculture, and food security. Aman leads an active lifestyle and enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with her family and dog.

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