UK has halved deaths from air pollution since 1970, but dirty air in Britain is still & # 39; a public health emergency & # 39; and is the greatest health risk to health, scientists say
- Researchers warn that inhaling toxic particles is still a public health hazard
- One in twenty premature deaths is only attributed to particle contamination
- Exposure to major air pollutants decreased significantly between 1970 and 2010
- Nevertheless, researchers say that urgent action is needed to deal with the public health emergency that causes harm similar to alcohol
Dirty air in Britain is still a public health emergency, despite the number of deaths caused by air pollution halving since 1970, a long-term study shows.
Researchers warn that inhaling small soot particles still poses a significant public health burden.
Toxic air remains the main health risk to health, researchers claim, with one in 20 deaths still attributed solely to particle pollution.
Public exposure to major air pollutants decreased significantly between 1970 and 2010, resulting in a decline in health effects, the study found.
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Dirty air in Britain is still a public health emergency, despite government measures that have halved mortality since 1970, a long-term study shows. Researchers warn that inhaling small soot particles still poses a significant burden on public health
Premature deaths from heart and lung diseases have more than halved from 12 percent in 1970 to five percent in 2010.
Deaths attributed to nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas emitted by diesel cars, fell from five percent to three percent.
Nevertheless, researchers say that urgent action is still needed to address the public health emergency that causes harm, just like alcohol.
& # 39; The message is that the air quality policy works & said, "Sotiris Vardoulakis, one of the study's authors and a researcher at the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh.
But five percent of PM2.5 deaths alone are still a & # 39; very heavy public health burden and we need to do something about it & # 39 ;, he said.
PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particles (PM) that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is approximately 3% of the diameter of a human hair.
The team looked at historical data for man-made emissions of air pollutants from 1970 to 2010 and modeled concentrations across the country of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and PM2.5 at 10-year intervals.
They worked on the same basis as a government committee, by calculating the health effects of that exposure.
The researchers took into account changes in the weather by using a fixed year of weather data for all modeling.
Premature deaths from heart and lung diseases have more than halved from 12 percent in 1970 to 5 percent in 2010. Deadly attributed to nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas emitted by diesel cars, fell from 5 percent to 3 percent.
Mapping time series of annual average concentration changes during the study period for SO2, NO2, PM2.5 and O3. The left panel (1970) shows the concentrations in the base year, with the remaining maps in each row illustrating the absolute change in concentrations in μg m-3. Blue indicates decreases and red indicates increases compared to the 1970 base.
Population weighted average UK fraction of mortality for O3 (blue), NO2 (red) and PM2.5 (green) for 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010. Public exposure to major air pollutants is between 1970 and Decreased significantly in 2010, resulting in a decrease in health effects
This means that the changes are only the result of changes in emissions that are driven by policy.
The results showed the impact of the clean air policy, driven by interventions, ranging from phasing out specific fuels or substances to regulating the use of chemicals and stimulating the development of cleaner, more efficient technologies.
The two most effective policies were the EU standards for vehicle regulations for cars that reduced nitrogen emissions and particles and directives to deal with acid rain, which reduced sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power stations.
Over the 40-year period, attributable mortality due to exposure to PM and NO2 in the UK has fallen by 56 percent and 44 percent respectively.
The health impact remains at the same level as in 2010, with small particles and NO2 causing an estimated 36,000 early deaths per year.
The research was published in Environmental Research Letters.
WHAT IS THE AIR QUALITY INDEX?
The air quality index (AQI) is a measure used by environmental agencies and other public authorities around the world to measure how clean the air is.
The lower the index, the better the quality of the air.
The AQI offers a number that is easy to compare between different pollutants, locations and time periods.
Exactly how this score is classified varies from country to country, but each category in the AQI corresponds to a different health risk.
The daily results of the index are used to provide the public with an estimate of the air pollution level.
The AQI offers a number that is easy to compare between different pollutants, locations and time periods. Exactly how this score is classified varies from country to country, but each category in the AQI corresponds to a different level of health risk
An increase in the air quality index means increased air pollution and serious threats to human health.
The AQI focuses on the health effects that can occur within a few days or hours after inhaling polluted air.
AQI calculations focus on important air pollutants, including: suspended particles, ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.
Particulate matter and ozone pollutants are the greatest risks to human health and the environment.
For each of these categories of air pollutants, different countries have their own established air quality indices in relation to other nationally established air quality standards for the protection of public health.
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