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22 December 2022
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ADPH London welcomes CMO’s air pollution report

England’s Chief Medical Officer, Sir Chris Whitty has published his third annual report today (8 December 2022), with the focus this year being on air pollution. The report is co-authored by leading experts from across the UK providing the latest evidence on air pollution based on indoor and outdoor measurements as well as modelling.

The report lays out the scale of the challenge of reducing air pollution, presenting up to date evidence on the extent and distribution of the negative impacts of air pollution. The report also highlights the importance of indoor air quality as an emerging public health problem.

The report notes that while outdoor air quality in this country has improved significantly since the 1980s, we can and should go further to reduce air pollution and it is technically possible to do so.

The CMO report makes 15 recommendations across different sectors – from making air quality central to local urban planning, through requiring developers to work to enhance air quality, to looking at ways to reduce indoor pollution and raising awareness about the effects of open fires.

The report highlights the success of policies and interventions aimed at improving air quality in London. Such policies and interventions include the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), cleaning up TfL’s existing vehicle fleet and urban planning approaches which encourage active travel, such as School Streets.

The report also acknowledges how improvements in air quality in London have benefited health outcomes. For example, the number of hospital admissions for asthma and serious lung conditions attributable to air pollution reduced by 30% between (2014-16) and (2017-19) with the largest percentage improvement being observed among children under the age of 14.

ADPH London is pleased the report acknowledges further health ‘co-benefits’ of urban planning interventions which encourage sustainable travel. These co-benefits include increased physical activity levels through active travel, reductions in road traffic collisions, encouraging community interaction and helping to address the causes and impacts of climate change.

Dr Dagmar Zeuner, Director of Public Health at Merton Council and Sponsor for Public Health at ADPH London said:

We welcome this report as it rightly shines a spotlight on the devastating impacts of air pollution and outlines practical and fair solutions to reduce its impact on human health. Air pollution is a public health emergency that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable, those on low incomes, the disabled and those marginalised in our society – exacerbating health inequalities.

ADPH London has for long championed the link between air pollution, climate change and health. We are proud to be an active player in London’s partnership on climate and health, including air quality, working in partnership with; London Councils, the GLA, OHID and UKHSA with increasing momentum.

We issued a joint position statement with the London Environment Directors Network (LEDNET) in September 2021, that was revised in February 2021, in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In November 2021, ADPH London declared a climate emergency committing to a series of measures to use our expertise and networks to raise awareness of the issues and actively engage in amplifying the call for equitable climate actions that put health first.

We are delighted to see acknowledgement in the CMO’s report for our collective efforts and will use this report widely to support the work of ADPH London, particularly in relation to our wider work on climate and health.

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