Air Pollution: Health Hazards

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 2nd September 2020.

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Photo of Joy Morrissey Joy Morrissey Conservative, Beaconsfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will include a target date for implementing WHO air quality standards in the Environment Bill.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government is committed to tackling a diversity of pollutants which harm human health and the environment. We already have ambitious and statutory emission reduction ceilings in place for five key air pollutants, as well as legally binding concentration limits. However, the case for even more ambitious action on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is especially strong, as it is the pollutant that has the most significant impact on health.

The Environment Bill establishes a legally binding duty to set a target for PM2.5, in addition to a long-term air quality target. We are committed to setting ambitious targets and following an evidence-based process, seeking advice from a range of experts, in addition to giving consideration to the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines. The targets will be set in secondary legislation at the end of this process. It would not be an effective approach to policy making to commit in primary legislation to delivering a target, without giving due consideration to its achievability and the measures required to meet that target. Stakeholders, Parliament and the public will have the opportunity to comment on, and input into, the process of developing this target.

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