Living in Britain’s polluted cities- London, increases the risk of an early death by the equivalent of smoking more than 150 cigarettes a year, a charity has warned.
High pollution levels have been reported, according to London Air Report in London today.
Air travelling through a polluted air mass over northwest Europe reached London on Friday and has resulted in the elevated levels, amid warnings that people should avoid doing strenuous exercise.
The British heart Foundation(BHF) expressed that air pollution must be declared ‘a public health emergency’.
The analysis shows that people living in the Newham, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and Islington areas of London are worst hit by air pollution. It also found that in the worst areas- Newham in eastern London-the air quality was four times that of the cleanest areas-Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.
Current EU limits on fire fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are 25 micrograms per meter, which the UK could meet this standard. However, The WHO limits are tougher- at 10 micrograms per meter cubed as an annual average.
Particles of pollution can seep into the body and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and making existing health problems worse. The BHF claims that around 11,000 coronary heart disease and stroke deaths each year in the UK are caused by particulate matter air pollution.
Jacob West, the executive director of healthcare innovation at the BHF, said: “Air pollution is a major public health emergency and over many years it has not been treated with the seriousness it deserves.’
“Unless we take radical measures now to curb air pollution, in the future we will look back on this period of inaction with shame‘ he continued.
‘The effect of air pollution on our heart and circulatory system is profound, and we have no choice over the air we breathe in the places we live. ‘Legislation was passed over a decade ago to protect people from passive smoke, and similarly decisive must be taken to protect people from air pollution.’
Words: Wanchen Cao
Photos: Wanchen Cao