The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has warned that people living in areas of the country that are worst affected by air pollution have an increased risk of death.

Currently, on an annual basis, 11,000 coronary heart disease and stroke deaths in the UK are attributable to air pollution. The BHF says that the pollution in some of these areas is the equivalent to smoking more than 150 cigarettes a year.

The BHF is urging the next Government to adopt into law tougher World Health Organization (WHO) limits on air pollution, where at present the UK subscribes to EU limits which are not as stringent as those set by WHO.

Jacob West, the Executive Director of Healthcare Innovation, said: “Air pollution is a major public health emergency and over many years it has not been treated with the seriousness it deserves. Unless we take radical measures now to curb air pollution, in the future we will look back on this period of inaction with shame. 

“Legislation was passed over a decade ago to protect people from passive smoke, and similarly decisive action must be taken to protect people from air pollution. 

“The last Government accepted that it is possible to implement tougher WHO air pollution limits, and the next Government must now do so protect the health of the nation.” 

Last reviewed 13 December 2019