As if Halloween wasn’t enough – we’re all being hit with quite real, and quite scary, news stories regarding air pollution in the UK right now. New information seems to surface each week telling us about the harmful effects of emissions from vehicles, the continued rise of air pollution in cities, and what impact this is having on our (and the environment’s) health.
Dr Penny Woods, of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Air pollution is reaching crisis point worldwide, and the UK is faring worse than many countries in Western Europe and the US.”
Headline Grabbing Facts
- Worldwide air pollution contributed to 6.5 million premature deaths in 2015 (Link to article)
- Outdoor air pollution is estimated to cause 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK (Link to article)
- Outdoor air pollution is estimated to cost the UK £22.6bn (Link to article)
- Evidence suggests long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution has links to asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease, problems with brain development and cognition, type 2 diabetes and a decline in lung function in adults (Link to website)
It’s all good and well investigating and reporting the problem – but how do we resolve it? With our absolute dependence on vehicles, this worldwide issue is not an easy fix.
In large cities, such as London, it’s arguable that congestion charges go some way in helping lower the density of air pollution, as well as the introduction of more energy efficient public transport. In Scotland, it’s been announced that the four biggest cities will introduce Low Emissions Zones, banning the most polluting vehicles by 2020.
Furthermore, could our sole use of electric cars be in the not so far future? In September 2017, the Scottish government announced a target to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles in Scotland by 2032 (Link to article).
What Can We Do?
Headlines aside, whether the reported figures are entirely accurate or not, we know air pollution continues to be a problem. We need to protect our health, as well as the health of the environment.
Whilst manufacturers continue to work on producing more efficient vehicle models, and governments work on controlling the amount of vehicles on the road – what can we do? From the vehicle we drive and the way we drive it, to not driving at all – there are lots of things we can do to try and cut down on the amount of emissions released into the environment.