Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released its findings on international urban air quality. The WHO found that more than 80% of people in monitored areas are breathing in air of such poor quality that it jeopardises their health, and in particularly tragic cases, their lives.
Rachael Maskell MP said:
“Air pollution causes an unacceptable number of deaths every year. Particulates can cause long-term, debilitating illnesses to people of any age, including children. It is not just the health and well-being of the British people that is harmed by this ongoing problem, which places an increasing strain on the NHS and the economy, with the Royal College of Physicians estimating an annual cost of £20 billion.
“I am currently lending my full support to the Air Quality Bill that aims to tackle diesel emissions in urban areas, which can be particularly dangerous. Air pollution is bad for our economy, our environment and our health. The damage it causes is not selective. It harms us all, and will continue to do so until the government acts decisively and deals with this issue.”
Poor air quality is a direct cause of respiratory disease. A study by the Royal College of Physicians found that around 40,000 people in the UK died in 2015 due to dangerous levels of particulate air pollution, and other studies have suggested that this figure could be too conservative. York’s own air pollution has been tied to up to 5% of all deaths in the constituency, with small suspended particles known as PM2.5, at exceeding the legal limit by 20% over the year. These smaller particles are the most dangerous, as they are able to reach deep into our lungs and pass through to our bloodstream. Since entering Parliament, Rachael has raised this issue in Parliament on numerous occasions.