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Yorkshire Coast at Risk From Toxic Air

Yorkshire Coast at Risk From Toxic Air

Published by Jon Burke at 12:06am 13th January 2020. (Updated at 6:28am 13th January 2020)

Heart attack and stroke deaths related to toxic air could exceed 15,000 in Yorkshire and Humber over the next decade, unless Government acts.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has today warned that heart and circulatory disease deaths attributed to particulate air pollution could exceed 15,400 over the next decade in Yorkshire and Humber, unless the new Government takes bold action.  

New calculations by the BHF have outlined the stark picture for communities right across the region. 

They say 2,080 could die in North Yorkshire and 1,200 in the East Riding.

The charity says air pollution presents a ‘major public health emergency’ which must be urgently addressed by the new Government. It is calling for World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on particulate matter (PM) to be adopted in to UK law, and met by 2030.

The call comes as the charity has launched a hard-hitting campaign, 'You're full of it', to highlight that we're all unwittingly inhaling dangerous levels of particulate matter air pollution in towns and cities across the UK every day.

It’s estimated that up to 11,000 heart and circulatory disease deaths are attributable to particulate air pollution in the UK every year.

BHF-funded research has shown that high levels of air pollution can have a harmful effect on health, such as by making existing heart conditions worse and increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Research funded by the charity found that fine particulate matter builds up around the body, including in the fatty plaques of diseased arteries.

Executive Director of Healthcare Innovation at the British Heart Foundation, Jacob West, said:  

“Every day, millions of us across the country are inhaling toxic particles which enter our blood and get stuck in our organs, raising our risk of heart attacks and stroke. Make no mistake – our toxic air is a public health emergency, and we haven’t done enough to tackle this threat to our society.

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. Clean Air legislation in the 1950s and 60s, and more recently the smoking ban in public places, show that government action can improve the air we breathe. 

Decision makers across the country owe it to future generations to help stop this alarming figure from becoming a reality. That’s why we are urging people to contact their MP and demand a change in the law.”

Currently, the UK subscribes to EU limits for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which is the pollutant with the most established links to health harms. 

However, the limits set by the WHO are more stringent than the EU’s. The charity is urging the new Government to adopt WHO guidelines into the reintroduced Environment Bill, with a requirement that these limits are met by 2030. 

The charity is urging people to write to their MPs, asking them to support the inclusion of WHO air pollution guideline limits in the bill. 

In July 2019, the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) published findings showing that meeting WHO guidelines on air pollution is “technically feasible” in most areas of the UK by 2030.

BHF research has shown that (PM2.5) can have a seriously detrimental effect to heart health, making existing conditions worse, and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. [5] 

British Heart Foundation-funded researcher specialising in air pollution, Dr Mark Miller, said:  

"Air pollution is a serious public health issue which affects us all, and evidence of the negative impact toxic air has on our health is increasing all the time. Our research has found that air pollution damages our blood vessels, increasing our risk of blood clots, and in turn heart attacks and stroke. 

While there is no safe level of air pollution exposure, adopting stricter guidelines will do a great deal to protect our health, allowing people to live healthier lives for longer."

To join the BHF’s campaign against toxic air visit www.bhf.org.uk/demandchange

Comments

There is 1 comment on this page.

zara, on 13th January 2020 2:28pm
easy to throw figures around. Is that all heart deaths or just ones that they subscribe to toxic air, although not quite sure how they can decide that. There are so many causes of heart related deaths would be more informative is they gave out better statistics. Do they include cigarette smokers in that figure?

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