Air pollution is the top environmental risk to human health in the UK, and the fourth greatest threat to public health after cancer, heart disease and obesity. It makes us more susceptible to respiratory infections and other illnesses, and the latest research estimates that the actions outlined in this document could cut the costs of air pollution to society by £1 billion every year by 2020, rising to £2.5 billion every year from 2030.Michael Gove MP
05 July 2018
Experts from King's guide UK government's Clean Air Strategy 2018
Will Richard, Communications & Engagement Officer
Research and expert advice from King’s Environmental Research Group (ERG) has shaped the government’s plans to tackle air pollution.
Research and expert advice from King’s Environmental Research Group (ERG), School of Population Health & Environmental Sciences, has shaped the government’s plans to tackle air pollution.
On 22 May the UK government released a draft of the Clean Air Strategy 2018 for public consultation. The Strategy outlines their ambition to reduce air pollution, make air healthier to breathe, protect nature and boost the economy. In launching the strategy Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, underlined its importance:
Much of the ‘latest research’ Mr Gove refers to comes from the ERG.
In April 2018, Professor Martin Williams and colleagues from the ERG published a comprehensive modelling study of the UK Climate Change Act in the Lancet. The study assessed the health and other benefits of policies put in place to mitigate climate change. In their conclusion, the authors call for the links between the aims of environmental policies and consideration of public health and wellbeing to be strengthened: a key part of the Clean Air Strategy.
Dr Gary Fuller’s research which revealed the high level of urban pollution caused by wood burning is quoted in the Strategy as the evidence to support a change in policy. The government hopes to move away from the current smoke control areas established in the 1950’s to a nationwide approach to reducing the pollution caused by households burning their own fuel.
The ERG advises government directly too. Professor Williams and Dr Fuller sit on the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG) and in 2011 Professor Williams also led a complete review of DEFRA’s air quality modelling. The subsequent report produced by the panel has changed the way government collects and analyses air quality data, shaping research, policy and ultimately this Strategy.
The Department of Health & Social Care’s advisory Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) provides independent advice to government departments and agencies on how air pollution effects public health. The 17-person committee is chaired by Professor Frank Kelly, Director of the ERG, and Dr Heather Walton is one of its members.
The government supports a strong and growing evidence base on the effects of pollution through our two independent expert committees - the Department of Health and Social Care’s advisory Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) and DEFRA’s keep emerging evidence under regular review.Clean Air Strategy 2018