Air Pollution

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 11th October 2018.

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Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he is putting in place to protect (a) children, (b) the elderly, (c) people with a (i) lung and (ii) heart condition and (d) other vulnerable people from air pollution.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Our recently published draft Clean Air Strategy sets out our proposals to reduce the emission of five regulated air pollutants, including PM2.5, which has the strongest evidence of harm to human health. The proposals in our the draft Strategy will result in reductions to PM2.5 concentrations which will halve the population living in areas with concentrations above the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) annual guideline of 10μgm-3, making us the first major developed economy to recognise the guideline. This ambition goes beyond EU requirements and has been welcomed by the WHO.

The measures in our draft Strategy will reduce concentrations of damaging pollution for all people, including those who may be more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.

Defra has consulted on the draft Strategy and is currently considering the responses received from a wide range of interested parties, including views about adoption of WHO guideline limits and how best to engage with those who may be more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. An updated Strategy published in due course.

Our proposals included additional powers for local authorities to tackle locally-important sources of air pollution, including around schools, care homes and healthcare facilities, if the local authority deems this appropriate.

Additionally, my officials are working with healthcare organisations to develop bespoke guidance for those who may be more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, including children, older people and those with cardiopulmonary conditions.

In March 2017, Defra, Public Health England and the Local Government Association, jointly published an updated resource “Air Quality: briefing for directors of public health”, which enables further action at the local level.

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