Commenting on the publication today (Wednesday) by Defra of a consultation on its proposed environmental targets for a range of factors including air quality, water, biodiversity, and resource efficiency as well as waste, British Safety Council Chief Executive, Mike Robinson, said:
“Air pollution remains the biggest environmental health risk affecting our health so it’s disappointing to see the Government showing a lack of ambition in proposing a target for concentrations of fine particles in our air that should have been met in 2005, not 2040.
“Recent research by Imperial College shows that just by continuing to enact current policy, it should be possible to get to this level by 2030. As the Government itself says, this would bring significant benefits by cutting and preventing diseases like coronary heart disease, strokes, asthma and lung cancer.
“Outdoor workers in the UK are often required to work where the air is most polluted, and they are too often overlooked when it comes to researching the health impacts. It’s time to start valuing people who don’t get to choose the air they breathe, like street cleaners, traffic police, cycle couriers, construction or maintenance workers, as well as teachers and security guards.
“The latest World Health Organisation guidelines say we should limit levels of tiny particulate matter to half the level the Government proposes now, not by 2040. We should aim to reach the UK Government’s proposed limit by 2030, or hundreds of thousands more people will die an early death, many of whom are the most vulnerable and least able to avoid getting ill.”