British Safety Council’s Head of Policy and Communications, Stephen Cooke, represented the Time to Breathe campaign on the risks to outdoor workers at an event to launch the Health Air Coalition’s new strategy and brand in the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 18 April.
Risks of air pollution raised in Parliament by Healthy Air Coalition
The event was hosted by Geraint Davies MP chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on air pollution, and included speeches by Sarah Woolnough, the Chair of the Healthy Air Coalition and CEO of Asthma + Lung UK, Rebecca Pow MP, Minister for Environmental Quality and Resilience, as well as Dr Camilla Kingdon, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and Ruth Fitzharris, Executive Assistant and Spokesperson for campaign group Mums for Lungs.
Founded 12 years ago, the Healthy Air Coalition (HAC), of which British Safety Council is a partner, is a collective of leading health, environment and transport organisations with the shared vision of a UK free from toxic air.
Addressing the event, Sarah Woolnough said: “The evidence does continue to grow about the devastating impact that air pollution can have on our bodies, affecting every organ.
“We know that cleaner air won’t only end the health crisis we’re facing, it will deliver an annual boost of at least £1.6 billion to the UK economy, and the solutions that help get us there will also help limit the impacts of climate change.”
In line with the Time to Breathe campaign’s own policy calls, the HAC wants to see urgent and ambitious healthy air targets that align with World Health Organization (WHO) guidance to clean up the air we breathe. It seeks tailored local action that reduces the impact of pollution on communities and neighbourhoods, as well as targeted action to reduce air pollution from high-emitting sectors, such as agriculture and heavy industry.
In addition, its partners are calling for a joined-up system of air pollution monitoring and alerts, accessible to the general public.
Stephen Cooke commented: “Being part of the HAC helps us to amplify our voice on the issue of air pollution and join forces with a range of others who all want the same thing even if our interests may differ. Coming together like this means we reach the ears of those who can make a difference – starting with national policymakers right through to those taking action on the ground like employers, businesses and local authorities.”
Commenting on the challenge, the Minister responsible for air quality, Rebecca Pow, said: “We can’t underestimate the scale of the challenge that we are facing. Air pollution is a global issue, it is multi-faceted, and the measures required to combat it are just as complex.
“As a Government, we need to make sure the steps we take to improve air quality work in partnership with other key priorities such as achieving net zero, protecting our economy, and supporting people with the cost of living. To go further, we have got to bring the whole of society with us.”
The Time to Breathe campaign calls on employers, policy-makers and regulators to start taking seriously the risk of ambient air pollution to the health of outdoor workers. These include street cleaners, refuse workers, traffic police, cycle couriers, construction or maintenance workers, newspaper sellers, gardeners, teachers, or security guards working on busy roads.
Find out more about #TimetoBreathe here.
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