clean air


Clean Air Day: More Must Be Done to Protect Future Generations From Air Pollution, States Bureau Veritas

Jun. 16 2021

Amid recent headlines about the reduction of air pollution-related deaths attributed to lower pollution levels under the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leading environment and sustainability experts Bureau Veritas states more must still be done to make a positive impact on air pollution for our future generations and cites the upcoming Clean Air Day (17 June) as the ideal opportunity for businesses reflect on their emissions contributions to air pollution.

Recent research published by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) revealed that there have been 32,000 less global deaths as a result of air pollution in 2020, with 1,200 of those deaths being prevented in the UK as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Estimates on the number of deaths attributed to air pollution in the UK vary from between 40,000 – 64,000, with two pollutants dominating the contribution to deaths – fine particulates and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).1 The UK Office for National Statistics found that NO2 in the UK fell by 23% in 2020 as a result of the lockdown and lesser economic activity, recording the lowest levels since records began. However, declines in other pollutants were not observed with little decrease observed in concentrations of ultra-fine particulates (PM2.5) and ozone.

In response to the findings on the pandemic’s effect on air pollution, Bureau Veritas asserts that with much of the UK economy having been put on hold for 12 months, the findings show there is still a long way to go to reduce levels of air pollutants to levels that pose no, or minimal risk, to the population.

Richard Maggs, Head of Environment & Sustainability at Bureau Veritas, states: “The topic of air pollution is nothing new, with the reduction of acid rain of the 1980s and 90s, and the ban on lead in petrol some of the modern day successes when it comes to making a positive impact on our air quality. These successes have been brought about through relatively simple legislative updates that have dealt with the source of emissions. However, the challenge now is arguably much greater, as the main source of pollution is more mobile – vehicle exhaust pollution – and also our lifestyle choices associated with wood burning stoves and indoor aerosols.

“This Clean Air Day is a pertinent reminder to businesses and individuals to reflect on their choices made within their lifestyles, such as energy usage and providers, the type of vehicle they drive and even down to the choice of indoor air fresheners, to accelerate the move to a more sustainable future”.

This year’s Clean Air Day is focussed around protecting children’s health from air pollution, which resonates with the recent case of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah. While 40,000 deaths are thought to be linked to air pollution each year, Ella’s death from asthma in 2013 was the first public declaration of an air pollution related death - as a result of living nearby to London South-Circular road – on a death certificate.

Richard continues: “For many businesses the focus on environment may just be climate change emitting gases such as carbon dioxide, but the public health risk from other pollutants is shown to be more immediate, as demonstrated through the case of Ella Kissi-Debrah. In addition to Ella’s death being acknowledged as having been caused by air pollution, the coroner’s “prevention of future deaths” report has clearly requested that the UK Government adopt tighter WHO PM2.5 air quality standards to further reduce the likelihood of further such cases arising.

“Whilst this acknowledgement of air pollution as a cause of death is a step in the right direction when it comes to awareness, it’s now time for businesses and individuals to take action and implement realistic goals to reduce their contribution to this global health issue.”

Bureau Veritas works with organisations across a wide variety of sectors to offer expert air quality services and provide cost-effective solutions to emissions management and clean air strategies to create a cleaner local environment for future generations to live and play safely in their schools, gardens and local streets free of the risks of poor air quality.

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