POLLUTION could directly result in 1,500 deaths in Warwickshire over the next decade experts have warned.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is calling on the government to take ‘bold’ action against a ‘major public health emergency’ after recent findings on the impact of pollution on the body and on existing health conditions.
BHF-funded research has shown high levels of air pollution can make existing heart conditions worse, increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Leamington has been highlighted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as among the worst towns in the country for air pollution, and among those exceeding its pollution level guidelines. Heavy traffic has been blamed for the high levels of pollutants.
Green Warwickshire county councillor and Leamington resident Jonathan Chilvers has long been campaigning for more sustainable and greener ways to travel in the county.
He said: “This British Heart Foundation research adds to the growing set of evidence that air pollution from tiny particulates pose a very serious risk to our health.
“The largest contributor of these are lorries, buses and cars. The best and cheapest way to address this health risk is to invest in safe and enjoyable walking and cycling routes for short journeys to town, work and school. Yet the government and county council still persist in building bigger roads that simply don’t fix the problem. That’s got to change.”
And now in a bid to tackle the problem nationally, the BHF is calling for the WHO guidelines on pollution levels to be adopted in UK law rather than the current EU limits it says are less stringent.
BHF spokesman Jacob West said:“Every day, millions of us across the country are inhaling toxic particles which enter our blood and get stuck in our organs, raising our risk of heart attacks and stroke. Make no mistake – our toxic air is a public health emergency, and we haven’t done enough to tackle this threat to our society.
“We need to ensure that stricter, health-based air quality guidelines are adopted into law to protect the health of the nation as a matter of urgency. Clean air legislation in the 1950s and 60s, and more recently the smoking ban in public places, show that government action can improve the air we breathe.
“Decision makers across the country owe it to future generations to help stop this alarming figure from becoming a reality. That’s why we are urging people to contact their MP and demand a change in the law.”
Visit www.bhf.org.uk/demandchange for further details on the campaign to tackle pollution.