By Qiwei Wang
New schools, care homes and hospitals should not be built near major roads due to the dangers of air pollution, according to a report by the Environmental Audit Committee on Monday.
The report says that young people could face lung damage caused by nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is a by-product of motor engines.
“There are nearly as many deaths now caused by air pollution as there are from smoking, so the main thing is we stop a new generation of children being exposed.” said Joan Walley, chair of the committee.
According to the government’s press release, in the UK there are an estimated 29,000 deaths a year due to long term exposure to poor air quality.
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, expressed his concern over air pollution in the UK on his twitter: “High UK air pollution levels put the nation’s heart health at risk.The Government can’t ignore this issue.”
— Simon Gillespie (@simonmgillespie) December 8, 2014
Figures from Clear Air in London, an organisation campaigning for clean air, estimated there would be 6,851 deaths in the city in 2020 and 6,422 in 2025.
“Although the air is not too bad when I go jogging in the morning, the time I get back home I always find my nostrils with black particles,” said Fanfei Ye, a student from the LSE who exercises every morning in the city centre, “The sky here is clearer than that of Beijing, but I really doubt the air quality as there are so many cars on roads in rush hours.”
The news reports in April this year recorded thick smog shrouding the country, forcing people to stop exercising and schools to keep pupils inside.
The Environmental Audit Committee has criticised the Government for failing to tackle the air pollution problems. MPs said new national planning guidelines should be introduced to “make it impossible” to build schools, care homes or health centres near air pollution hotspots.
“We continue to support local authorities in identifying the best solutions for their area and sharing best practice,” said a spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, “government further supports these efforts through our air quality grant scheme. We will be responding to the report fully in due course.”
Here are some people’s opinions towards air pollution in the UK: