‘Invisible killer’: Schools, hospitals should be built away from pollution hotspots – MPs
8 Dec, 2014 16:13 / Updated 5 years ago
Schools, hospitals and public buildings should be built away from main roads to protect young children and the sick from deadly pollution, British politicians have urged.
Environmental Audit Committee recommends schools are fitted with
special air filters to block dangerous toxic chemicals emitted
from diesel engines and other such machines.
“Air pollution is an invisible killer and a public health
imperative,” the committee said.
“It is unacceptable that a whole generation of people … could
have their health seriously impaired by air pollution above EU
limits before government brings this public health problem under
In the committee’s latest report, called “Action on Air
Quality,” the MPs also recommended other public buildings,
including hospitals and care homes, be built away from areas with
high levels of pollution.
“Urgent change is needed in transport and planning policy to
save lives and ensure that the UK meets European safety targets
much sooner than the expected dates indicated by the Department
for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,” the report
According to the Office of National Statistics, around 29,000
people die each year from exposure to toxic chemicals in the air,
although the government says a further 30,000 deaths could be
added if levels of Nitrogen Dioxide in the air was accounted for.
The shocking data could mean the number of people dying from such
airborne chemicals could match those succumbing to the deadly
effects of smoking, according to the committee’s chair, Joan
“Children growing up near busy roads with high NO2 (nitrogen
dioxide) and particle emissions have stunted and impaired lung
development,” she warned.
“Over 1,000 schools are only 150 meters away from major
roads. Protecting children and vulnerable people in the worst
affected areas must be made a priority.”
She also recommended the government provide more tax incentives
to renewable forms of energy, while curbing the use of diesel
vehicles, which produce 22 times as many toxic particulate as
their petrol counterparts.
“Air pollution is a public health crisis that kills tens of
thousands of people each year and yet this Tory-led government
has done nothing to tackle the problem,” Shadow Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs Minister Barry Gardiner told the Guardian.
The report comes weeks after an EU court ruled that Britain
needed to “urgently” clean up illegal pollution levels
in its cities, in a case that could see heavy goods vehicles and
diesel cars significantly restricted in city centers.