Toxic air exacerbating lung conditions
More than 4 million people in the UK are experiencing potentially life-threatening asthma and COPD exacerbations because of toxic air, highlighting the urgent need for more stringent air quality control, finds a new report by Asthma + Lung UK.
According to Alerting the Nation, surveys involving more than 16,000 people indicate that more than half 53% of people with asthma and 47% of those with COPD report toxic air as a trigger for lung symptoms including a tight chest, coughing and breathlessness.
“Overall, we estimate that air pollution triggers or worsens symptoms for 3.4 million people with asthma and COPD,” the charity noted. “This suggests that air pollution is an ongoing and constant issue for people living with a lung condition across the UK”.
A further survey of 1,000 people with lung conditions found that when pollution levels are high 33% don’t leave their homes and 47% are unable to exercise outside. Also, 17% reported that air pollution prevented them from see their friends and family, and 24% said it made them feel depressed.
“Air pollution is silently damaging the lives and lungs of millions of people right across the UK – leaving people gasping for breath, putting them in hospital and ultimately cutting lives short,” warned Sarah Woolnough, Asthma + Lung UK’s chief executive.
“Despite this, the government continues to kick robust national targets for the most harmful types of pollutants into the long grass.This is completely unacceptable.”
The charity is again calling on the government to introduce tougher legal air quality targets for England that will slash the levels of the most harmful types of pollution to human health by 2030, in line with interim guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO).