In 2019, more than 250,000 babies were born in dangerously polluted parts of the UK, a study found.
Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, the organizations leading the research, said the pollution levels were a “national shame” and called on the government to urgently reduce traffic fumes, the biggest source of pollution.
Their report found that every two minutes a child takes their first breath at a place where fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exceeds the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2005 recommended guidelines.
About a third of English hospitals are located in areas with poor air quality. It is not only the big cities that fail to meet the WHO advice on PM 2.5 levels, but also smaller places like Windsor and Eaton.
WHO regulations tightened last month, according to researchers, with the UK producing 600,000 babies by next year in air that is known to be toxic.
With the Cop26 climate summit taking place in Glasgow next week, health campaigners said the British government should clean up its act.
Sarah Woolnow, who runs Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, called it unacceptable that the country still has such high levels of pollution.
“Every child deserves the best start in life and our government needs to do its duty to cut down on the level of air pollution and save the generations to come from this invisible menace,” he said.
There is strong evidence that air pollution can affect a child’s organs and increase their chances of developing asthma.
The mother-in-law of three, Julia Kovaliova, 37, who lives in a polluted part of Manchester, has seen the consequences of low-quality air on her eldest child, Maxim.
The 11-year-old girl developed pollution-induced asthma five years ago. “When we are away from home, such as on vacation or visiting family in Lithuania, where there is little traffic, her breathing problems miraculously disappeared,” said her mother.
Ms Kovaliova is now worried that Maxim’s asthma will worsen and that her daughter will also develop a lung condition. He said the family could not afford to move to another area.
Andy Ratcliffe, director of Impact on Urban Health, said the report showed maternity wards in poorer areas were more likely to have bad pollution. “This is an unacceptable example of inequality in action,” he said, calling on the government to tackle the issue as part of its “flatten” agenda.
There are also an estimated 36,000 premature deaths in the UK from toxic air each year. Last year, a landmark investigation announced that air pollution “made a material contribution” to the death of nine-year-old Ella Addu-Kisi-Debra in 2013.
write in GranthshalaMunira Wilson, a Lib Dem MP, recently supported the campaign for “ella law”, which seeks to enforce legal air pollution limits in the UK in line with WHO guidance.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /