Children are often the greatest sufferers of ill-health due to air pollution.
According to a Unicef report one in three youngsters is breathing harmful air and a child is admitted to hospital with an asthma attack every 20 minutes.
Seven out of ten towns and cities have levels of dangerous air particles above the World Health Organisation recommended limits.
· OVER 2000 SCHOOLS AND NURSERIES IN ENGLAND AND WALES ARE NEAR ROADS WITH ILLEGAL LEVELS OF POLLUTION
· AROUND 250 HOSPITALS AND OVER 2200 GP SURGERIES IN THE UK ARE IN AREAS WITH DANGEROUS LEVELS OF TOXIC AIR
Mike Penrose, Executive Director at Unicef UK, says in a recent Press Release: “Children have a fundamental right to grow up in a clean and safe environment that gives them the best possible start in life. The persistent, illegal breaches of air pollution limits across the UK are an unacceptable violation of this.
“The impact of toxic air is undeniable. The UK is home to more children suffering from respiratory conditions than anywhere else in Europe.
And Professor Jonathan Grigg of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) adds: “One third of the UK’s children are breathing in harmful levels of air pollution and that puts them at high risk of asthma and lung infections which can be fatal. But with appropriate action, these risks don’t have to become a reality.
In recent years, there has been a very welcome shift towards the prioritisation of child health by our Government. I would now like to see this extended towards the prevention of air pollution. The recommendations set out in Unicef UK’s report lay the foundations for this and I very much support them. We now need the Government to act.”
In the Unicef report HEALTHY AIR FOR EVERY CHILD: A CALL FOR NATIONAL ACTION it states:
A range of measures which achieve results in the short and long term are required, from reducing pollutant concentrations in the immediate vicinity of child-centric locations such as schools and nurseries – where Unicef UK research has found that children are disproportionately exposed to air pollution – to awareness-raising campaigns that encourage positive behaviour changes over time.
Indeed, UNICEF UK CALLS ON THE UK GOVERNMENT TO:
SET LEGALLY BINDING TARGETS to meet World Health Organization- recommended limit values forparticulate matter across the UK by 2030, and take urgent action to meet existing targets on nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
COMMIT TO A CROSS-GOVERNMENTAL HEALTHY AIR FOR CHILDREN ACTION PLAN that sets out a national framework to protect children and young people from toxic air where they are most at risk.
COMMIT TO A LITTLE LUNGS FUND providing ring-fenced funding to protect children and young people from toxic air amounting to a minimum of £215 million in the first year and yearly replenishments until 2030, or as long as air pollution levels remain unhealthy.
Some regional authorities, such as those in London and Manchester, are taking steps to tackle air pollution, but central government has been widely criticised for its lack of action.