The Government needs to urgently adopt the World Health Organization’s limits for exposure to particulate matter (PM) to protect people from harmful levels of air pollution, says Dominic Phinn.

While the pandemic has taken a terrible toll on people’s health and wellbeing, any urban-dweller who stepped outside in March and April will remember cleaner air and clearer skies, when levels of many harmful pollutants in the air dropped significantly. But it didn’t last and this prompts the question: why is air that is safe to breathe such an anomaly?

Air pollution is hugely damaging for people’s health and this is now broadly understood. What is less well known is air pollution’s detrimental impact on the economy. According to CBI Economics, dirty air in the UK causes three million working days to be lost every year owing to people getting ill or taking time off to care for sick children. Action on air pollution benefits the bottom line as well as employee health.

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