MPs launch inquiry into air quality improvement



The House of Commons environmental audit committee (EAC) has launched an inquiry into the progress made on improving air quality, in order to find solutions to the pollution that affects thousands of people across the UK.

The inquiry will seek to assess changes in transportation and planning, such as low emission zones. It follows on from a 2011 report by the EAC which raised concern over the high levels of air pollution in the UK.

The committee will also look at the effects that European policies could have on local governments and how new technologies can help reduce pollution.

Chair of the committee, Joan Walley MP, said, “Air pollution is thought to contribute to more deaths than passive smoking, traffic accidents or obesity, yet the UK is still breaching European safety limits nearly five years after EU fines were first threatened.

“The environmental audit committee warned four years ago that an urgent policy response, greater public awareness and a shift in transport policy was required if air quality was to be improved. We will now be examining what progress has been made by central and local government since then in removing the most polluting vehicles from the road and encouraging cleaner forms of transport.”

The government faces legal action from the European commission, as it was said that pollution levels in the country exceeded safe limits.

The UK also experienced something of a pollution crisis recently, when weather events saw emissions from industry and traffic stay in the atmosphere for longer than usual.

In April, Public Health England (PHE) said that air pollution was “the biggest public health risk after smoking” and contributed to around 29,000 deaths in the UK annually.

Photo: thewritingzone via flickr

Further reading:

What is causing the high levels of air pollution in the UK?

Paris bans half of cars from its roads to tackle pollution

World Health Organisation: air pollution is carcinogenic to humans

EU launches legal fight against UK air pollution levels

‘Safe’ pollution levels can amplify lung cancer and heart failure risks


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