Report highlights major public health challenge of air pollution

Dr Suzanne Bartington welcomes a renewed focus on healthcare and reducing air pollution in the Chief Medical Officer's Annual Report.

London skyline showing smoke and pollution

Photo by Mario La Pergola on Unsplash

“The CMO Report highlights the major public health challenge of poor air quality in England. The report clearly sets out the evidence for negative health effects of short and long-term air pollution exposure – both indoors and outdoors - from before birth to older age. Importantly, there is a focus on the contribution of air pollution to health inequalities, reflecting differences in pollutant exposure and vulnerabilities.

“The recommendation to focus interventions on places where people live, work and study reflects an important policy shift towards prioritising actions which deliver the greatest health benefits at a population level. It is also important to note that the potential cost savings arising from disease prevention through air quality interventions can deliver economic benefits beyond the healthcare sector – including for productivity and wider society.

“The explicit focus on the NHS is a welcome step forward in linking healthcare service provision with preventative actions. This is critically important in the context of major structural changes being undertaken across the healthcare sector to achieve a net zero NHS by 2045. The report identifies the importance of sharing best practice between health and care organisations and adopting available tools to inform actions for the benefit of staff and patients. Importantly, the key role of healthcare professionals is recognised, including the need for training and support for the management of patients who are vulnerable to the harms of air pollution.”

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