CIEH welcomes UK Chief Medical Officer’s calls for further action on air pollution

08 December 2022, Ciaran Donaghy

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has welcomed the UK Chief Medical Officer's annual report in which he called for greater action to be taken in tackling both outdoor and indoor air pollution.

The UK's Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Professor Chris Witty, has called for further action to reduce both outdoor and indoor air pollution to protect public health. Air pollution is a major public health issue, causing an estimated 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK and is associated with illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, lung disease, cancer, and asthma exacerbation. It also leads to increased mortality and is associated with impacts on lung development in children.

In a report released today, Professor Whitty set out several recommendations to reduce air pollution. These include accelerating the electrification of light vehicles and public transport, innovation to reduce air pollution from non-exhaust sources such as tyres, reducing ammonia emissions in agriculture by applying slurry directly to soil, as well as supporting local air pollution action such as reducing air pollution near schools and healthcare settings.

Professor Whitty's report also highlighted the importance of assessing the impact indoor air pollution is having on public health.

CIEH, as part of the Health Air Campaign, have long called for the UK Government to place more attention on the urgent need to tackle air pollution, calling for the UK Government to adhere to its statutory duty to introduce ambitious air quality targets and support calls for greater research and action on addressing indoor air pollution.

Ross Matthewman, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said:

"CIEH welcomes the UK Chief Medical Officer's annual report and believe his findings are very timely.

This renewed focus on the impact air pollution has on public health, comes at a time when the UK Government is dragging its heels on introducing binding Air Quality targets it promised to introduce as part of the Environment Act passed only last year.

CIEH wish to take this opportunity to, once again, call on the government to fulfil their statutory duty by urgently introducing ambitious air quality targets.

We must act now to reduce air pollution to protect public health. We can and should go further to reduce air pollution, and these recommendations are designed to do just that. We welcome the CMO's calls for greater research into the effects indoor air pollution has on public health, and hope this report focuses the government's mind on the need to take this issue seriously.”

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