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UK Chief Medical Officer’s annual report 2022: air pollution

Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Report 2022 Air pollution: “Air pollution affects us all. It is associated with impacts on lung development in children, heart disease, stroke, cancer, exacerbation of asthma and increased mortality, among other health effects. Except for air quality in our own homes, we have little control as individuals over the level of pollution that we and our families breathe – this must be seen as a societal problem to solve. Government has therefore had a central role in tackling air pollution in the UK going back at least to King Edward I in the 1280s, and does now. Many industries and sectors also have to be part of the solution. Outdoor air quality in this country, and most high-income countries, has improved significantly since the 1980s. Some air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide from coal, and lead from petrol, are fractions of their previous levels. As this report lays out, we can and should go further to reduce air pollution – and it is technically possible to do so. Improvements in engineering for transport and industry, modifications to agricultural practice and improvements in the built environment are examples that should, once a change is made, be self-sustaining and allow us to reap health benefits for the foreseeable future. Many of the changes to improve outdoor air pollution have significant benefits. For example, reducing the use of fossil fuels for energy reduces both air pollution and carbon emissions; improving active travel reduces air pollution emissions from vehicles and has direct health benefits to those who are walking, wheeling or cycling…”

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