KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — By 2030, more than 160,000 people in the United Kingdom (UK) will die of heart and circulatory diseases caused by air pollution, a British charity predicted.
This is equivalent to over 40 deaths from heart and circulatory disease related to air pollution each day, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said yesterday.
Calling on its new government to take “bold action”, the BHF said air pollution presents a “major public health”, and called for World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on particulate matter to be adopted into UK law, and met by 2030.
Currently, the UK subscribes to EU limits for fine particulate matter (PM2.5 or 25μg/m3), which is the pollutant with the most established links to health harms. The limits set by the WHO are more stringent though, at 10μg/m3 as an annual average.
An estimated 11,000 heart and circulatory disease deaths are attributable to particulate air pollution in the UK every year, with research funded by BHF showing that high levels of air pollution can have a harmful effect on health, including by making existing heart conditions worse and increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Research has also found that fine particulate matter builds up around the body, including in the fatty plaques of diseased arteries, BHF said.
“Make no mistake -– our toxic air is a public health emergency, and we haven’t done enough to tackle this threat to our society,” said Jacob West, BHF executive director of health care innovation.
BHF called on people in the UK to write to their MPs, and urge them to support the inclusion of WHO air pollution guideline limits in the country’s reintroduced Environment Bill.
“We need to ensure that stricter, health-based air quality guidelines are adopted into law to protect the health of the nation as a matter of urgency,” Jacob said.
“Decision makers across the country owe it to future generations to help stop this alarming figure from becoming a reality.”
BHF’s call came as it launched a hard-hitting campaign called, “You’re full of it”, which highlights that people in the UK inhale dangerous levels of particulate matter air pollution in towns and cities across the country on a day-to-day basis.