Layla Moran is using National Clean Air Day (21st June) to call on the Government to tackle air pollution in towns and villages across the county.
Layla Moran is renewing her calls for the Government to expand its focus on cleaning up toxic air to include areas of poor air quality in villages and market towns in the county such as Abingdon, Botley and Kidlington – as well as in Oxford city centre.
It comes as the MP and the British Heart Foundation warn that heart health can be at risk even within cars where air pollution levels can be significantly higher that outside the vehicle.
As well as encouraging individual action to encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport Layla Moran MP is also calling for national action to make the UK’s air safe to breathe, especially for local residents with heart and circulatory conditions whose health is at increased risk from air pollution.
Air pollution is now the largest environmental risk factor linked to deaths in England, with the majority of air-pollution related deaths worldwide (58%) caused by heart disease or stroke. The British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) research has shed light on how health-harmful pollutants such as particulate matter - small particles found in emissions from diesel engines and wood burning stoves- can cause damage to people’s cardiovascular health and increase the risk of potentially deadly heart attacks and stroke.
Ms Moran and the BHF are now urging the Government to adopt World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality guidelines into UK law.
The charity believes it is vital that the UK’s air quality legislation has the protection of health at its core. This will ensure that efforts to reduce air pollution achieve meaningful outcomes, particularly for vulnerable groups whose lives are impacted by outdoor air pollution.
The EU air quality limits that the UK currently follows are equal to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended upper limits for nitrogen dioxide but are less stringent than the WHO’s guidelines for health-harmful pollutants.
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran said:
“I’m concerned that my constituency has been identified by the World Health Organisation as having particulate matter levels that could pose a risk to 11,900 local residents living with heart and circulatory disease.
“It is extremely concerning to hear how the UK’s air pollution is harming the public’s heart health every day, because air quality limits are not stringent enough. Research shows that even the smallest reduction can make a big difference in preventing new cases of coronary heart disease.
“Critically, the Government needs to do more to tackle hotspots in villages and towns like Abingdon, Botley and Kidlington as well as our city centres so that no one – no matter where they live – has to risk their health simply by breathing in the air around them.”
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said:
“It’s great to have the support of Layla Moran MP with encouraging action to promote and protect the nation’s heart health from the effects of air pollution.
“We know that to have good heart and circulatory health, people need to be active. But BHF-funded research suggests that poor air quality can cancel out the cardiovascular benefits of exercise in vulnerable people. Further BHF-funded research has also shown that particulate matter increases the risk of potentially fatal complications for people with a heart or circulatory condition.
“To reduce this risk, we urgently need WHO limits for PM to be adopted into new air quality legislation as soon as possible.”