Posted by Neharika Sabharwal on November 27, 2010

The particulate matter (PM10) emitted from road vehicles can be hazardous to health and has been linked to respiratory illness, heart disease, and asthma, conditions which can dramatically lower life expectancy.

According to the report on air quality released by the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) in March this year, the UK government has admitted that, on an average, people across the country could be losing nearly six months of their lives by breathing Britain’s filthy air.

In addition, it was noted that, in the worst affected areas, pollution could be taking nearly eight or nine years off the lives of people most at risk, such as those suffering from asthma.

Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Joan Walley stated, "It’s a national scandal that the average life expectancy of people living in the UK is reduced by 6 months because of road traffic pollution.

"This shocking statistic should be used to inform policy decisions on transport across local and central Government."

Need to make air quality top priority
Though, UK has repeatedly failed to meet the EU air pollution targets over the past decade, the government is optimistic that it will improve the quality of air and achieve the legal limit values for air pollution by next year.

Despite the tall promises made, no measures are in place to improve the quality of air and not much progress is being made to reduce the level of air pollution.

There is an urgent need for the UK government to give higher priority to air quality, to raise awareness, and educate the public on the dangers of air pollution.

In addition, it is vital to minimize their exposure to the air pollutants.

Some recommendations
To improve the quality of air, a shift in UK’s transport policy is recommended. This means more regulation of bus and taxi engines and the removal of vehicles that fuel air pollution.

Reduction in traffic is another suggestion to bring down overall emissions from the burning of diesel and other fuels.

Another alternative proposal to ensure that air pollution is reduced is to use dust-suppressant sprays on the roads.

Joan Walley added, "Using dust suppressant sprays to damp down pollution on London’s roads will help people in our capital city breathe easier – but it’s only a temporary fix.

"We need to tackle the root cause of the air pollution problem and clean up our transport system."

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