In the next decade 1,600 people in Cumbria could die due to problems caused by air pollution, the British Heart Foundation has warned.
In the UK up to 11,000 deaths a year, from heart and circulatory disease, are caused by air pollution. The charity says toxic air presents a ‘major public health emergency’ which must be urgently addressed by the new Government.
It is calling for World Health Organisation guidelines on particulate matter to be adopted in to UK law, and met by 2030.
Barbara Kobson is a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation.
Jacob West, Executive Director of Healthcare Innovation at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Every day, millions of us across the country are inhaling toxic particles which enter our blood and get stuck in our organs, raising our risk of heart attacks and stroke. Make no mistake – our toxic air is a public health emergency, and we haven’t done enough to tackle this threat to our society.
“We need to ensure that stricter, health-based air quality guidelines are adopted into law to protect the health of the nation as a matter of urgency.Clean Air legislation in the 1950s and60s, and more recently the smoking ban in public places, show that government action can improve the air we breathe.
“Decision makers across the country owe it to future generations to help stop this alarming figure from becoming a reality. That’s why we are urging people to contact their MP and demand a change in the law.”
The call comes as the charity has launched a campaign, 'You're full of it', to highlight that we're all inhaling dangerous pollution in towns and cities across the UK every day.
BHF-funded research has shown that high levels of air pollution can have a harmful effect on health, such as by making existing heart conditions worse and increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Research funded by the charity found that fine particulate matter builds up around the body, including in the fatty plaques of diseased arteries.