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School pupils and hospital patients at risk of killer pollution, say MP's - 8th December

Air Pollution

A committee of MP’s has warned that schools, hospitals and care homes should not be built near main roads in order to reduce the many deaths being caused by the “invisible killer” of air pollution.

The Commons environmental audit committee recommends that diesel engines should be scrapped over time and existing schools close to busy roads should be fitted with an air-filtration systems to avoid the minute particles and toxic gases emitted from vehicles.

“Air pollution is an invisible killer and a public health imperative. It is unacceptable that a whole generation of people could have their health seriously impaired by air pollution above EU limits before government brings this public health problem under control,” the MPs say.

MP’s are recommending that planners and roadbuilders take more account of air pollution and that a loophole that allows mechanics to remove air filters from trucks be closed.

The UK death toll for air pollution is about 29,000 people a year however this doesn’t take into account levels of NO2 gas (mainly emitted by diesel engines). The inclusive of NO2 into this statistic could add a further 30,000 deaths a year, said Joan Walley, chair of the committee. “New figures suggest air pollution could be killing almost the same number of people as smoking in the UK, yet government seems unwilling to put saving lives before economic growth”.

“The committee’s report is a thorough and comprehensive assessment of government inaction on air pollution and it fully backs Labour’s commitment to deliver a national framework for low-emissions zones,” he said. The committee report follows rulings this year by the supreme court and the European court of justice that the UK government had acted illegally in not addressing air pollution and should act urgently to improve air quality in British cities.

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