A new document published by the British Lung Foundation and Asthma UK found that around six million over 65-year-olds in England are at high risk of lung damage and asthma attacks because of toxic air.
More than half of older people living in England live in areas where the particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution exceeds the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended levels. Because of this, 59% of over-65s are at risk of suffering from breathing difficulties, asthma attacks, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) flare-ups. The report also found that 26% of care homes in England are located in areas with toxic air.
The PM2.5 pollution comes from traffic fumes, vehicles, and wood burners. It can penetrate deep into the lungs, which can increase the risk of developing breathing difficulties, lung disease, and lung cancer. This can lead to thousands of premature deaths yearly, as demonstrated by the untimely passing of 10-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah, with air pollution being a contributing factor of her death. With the UK currently battling a virus which primarily affects the lungs, reducing the risk of respiratory illnesses is greatly important.
Luke Pollard responded to the report, saying:
‘Labour tried to put the World Health Organisation targets for air quality into law, but the Tories voted against it. The Conservatives’ unwillingness to address the high levels of air pollution are putting some of the most vulnerable people’s health at risk. The Government must show urgency towards tackling the climate crisis.’