Parliament reviews the impact of air pollution

In 2010 the Parliamentary on the environment headed up by Tim Yeo produced a report into traffic pollution, its main findings were:

“Air pollution on UK streets is contributing to tens of thousands of early deaths each year and the Government is not doing enough to tackle the problem, according to a report published today by the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee.

The MPs warn that Britain could face millions of pounds in fines if our cities continue to breach EU air quality targets supposed to protect public health.

Tim Yeo MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee said:

“Air pollution probably causes more deaths than passive smoking, traffic accidents or obesity, yet it receives very little attention from Government or the media.”

“In the worst affected areas this invisible killer could be taking years off the lives of people most at risk, such as those with asthma.

“The large EU fines we face, if we don’t get to grips with this problem, should now focus Ministers’ minds.

“Much more needs to be done to save lives and reduce the enormous burden air pollution is placing on the NHS.”

According to evidence presented to the inquiry, air pollution could be contributing to as many as 50,000 deaths per year – as it makes asthma worse and exacerbates heart disease and respiratory illness. Averaged across the whole UK population it is estimated that poor air quality is shortening lives by 7-8 months. In pollution hotspots it could be cutting the most vulnerable people’s lives short by as much as nine years, the report says.

Despite these considerable impacts on public health, very little effort is being put into reducing air pollution levels compared with efforts to tackle smoking, alcohol misuse and obesity, the report says.

Air pollution from road vehicles causes the most damage to health, the MPs conclude. A dramatic shift in transport policy is required if air quality is to be improved, they add.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2010/03/early-deaths-from-air-pollution-shame-uk-says-report/

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3 Responses to Parliament reviews the impact of air pollution

  1. JJ says:

    “Air pollution probably causes more deaths than passive smoking…” Err, what deaths are caused by ‘‘passive smoking’? Has somebody now got post mortem evidence that shows death by ‘passive smoking’?

  2. daveatherton says:

    JJ I agree with you, our junk science is better than yours lol.

  3. Rose says:

    London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – 2002

    Fear of political embarrassment led to government cover up of link between air pollution and lung cancer

    “Delegates attending an international conference in London today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Great London Smog of 1952, which caused an estimated 12,000 deaths, will hear how governments from the late 50s onwards deliberately downplayed the huge threat to public health caused by air pollution, and sought to shift the blame firmly onto cigarette smoking instead.”

    ‘It was pointed out that individuals could avoid the dangers of smoking but not those of pollution. It was also thought that a section on atmospheric pollution within the main report might detract from the main arguments on smoking and lung cancer’.
    http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/news/2002/smogpollution.html

    They didn’t get to passive smoking until 1975.
    It hadn’t occurred to me before that Godber might have had another reason to push the idea of passive smoking, apart from using social pressure on people who smoke.

    Mortality in the London Boroughs, 1950—52, with Special Reference to Respiratory Disease
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1058618/?page=4

    Medicine: Death in the Smoke
    Monday, May. 11, 1959
    “It does not take “a London particular” to send cough-racked Britons to their beds —or their graves. The tight little island’s air is tightly packed with pollutant particles, boosting the bronchitis and chest-disease rate to the world’s highest. Last week Dr. Horace Joules (rhymes with rules), of London’s Central Middlesex Hospital, painted a Dickensian picture of what a medical nightmare the past winter had been in the city which some Englishmen still call “the Smoke.”

    “The hospital really was an annex of the mortuary. If there had been a few days of smog, there would have been a holocaust in London.”

    Echoed Edgware General Hospital’s Dr. Hugh J. Trenchard: “It is time to panic.”
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,865848,00.html

    They were going to mention the deaths from air pollution

    “Fletcher had been invited to lunch by the deputy chief medical officer, George Godber, who was frustrated by the lack of activity within his Ministry, and the two had agreed to sound out Platt about taking on the smoking issue. Godber was a member of the RCP’s Council and a close friend of Platt. Avery Jones also heard what was afoot and wrote again in January 1959 to urge the Royal College to action. The first informal meeting was held on 16 February 1959, and in April the Comitia of the College agreed that a committee should be formed “to report on smoking and atmospheric pollution in relation to carcinoma of the lung and other illnesses”; the first formal meeting was held at the College on 15 July 1959 at 5 p.m.27”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1894742/

    But by 1962 all mention of air pollution had been erased.

    I have found researching the Great London Smog and its aftermath very informative.

    It was Repace who reminded me about it.
    “More people died in 2002 from passive smoking at work in the UK than were killed by the Great London smog of 1952”
    James Repace
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2925633.stm

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