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Public Health England publishes air pollution evidence review

Public Health England has published a review of evidence on how to improve air quality in the United Kingdom. The review informs local and national government on actions to improve outdoor air quality and health.

Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure. There is strong evidence that air pollution causes the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and lung cancer, and exacerbates asthma.

Key interventions local authorities can take include:

  • promoting a step change in the uptake of low emission vehicles – by setting more ambitious targets for electric car charging points, as well as encouraging low emission fuels and electric cars
  • boosting investment in clean public transport, as well as foot and cycle paths to improve health
  • redesigning cities so people aren’t so close to highly polluting roads
  • discouraging highly polluting vehicles from entering populated areas – for example, with low emission or clean air zones.

This work could involve designing wider streets or considering using hedges to screen against pollutants when planning new infrastructure.