LIVING in the UK’s most polluted areas raises the risk of early death by the equivalent of smoking 150 cigs a year, a charity has warned.
The British Heart Foundation has called for air pollution to be declared a “public health emergency”.
Its analysis shows those in the Newham, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and Islington areas of London are worst hit.
But a further six London boroughs are also badly affected by fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
Areas outside the capital hit include Slough, Dartford, Portsmouth, Medway, Luton, Gravesham and Thurrock. Around 11,000 coronary heart disease and stroke deaths each year in the UK are caused by particulate matter air pollution.
The BHF wants the next government to replace current EU air pollution limits with stricter, World Health Organisation ones.
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The EU’s PM2.5 cap, which Britain easily meets, is 25mg per metre-cubed as an annual average. The WHO limit is 10mg.
The BHF’s Jacob West said: “Air pollution has not been treated with the seriousness it deserves.
“Legislation was passed to protect people from passive smoke, and similar decisive action must be taken on 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 to protect the health of the nation.”
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