A cross-party group of 90 MP and Peers has written to the Prime Minister calling on him to back a clean air strategy to reduce the risk of coronavirus and to set about an economic recovery that puts public health and the environment centre stage.
The letter refers to the report based on proposals from scientists, businesses, local authorities and MPs and cites research from Harvard and Queen Mary London universities that pollution is linked with higher COVID-19 death and infection rates.
Harvard showed that 1 micro-gramme per cubic metre increase in PM2.5 particulates equates an 8% increase in COVID deaths and Queen Mary that air pollution stimulates the receptors in the nose and throat that catch the infection.
The proposals include safer more frequent public transport, cleaner private transport, more pedestrian space and cycling, a clamp-down on wood and coal burning, improvements in indoor air quality, less polluting machinery, a reduction in ammonia fertilisers and the adoption of World Health Organisation air quality targets.
Geraint Davies MP, Chair of the APPG on Air Pollution said,
“Air pollution already kills 62,000 people prematurely in the UK each year. It damages hearts and lungs which accounts for the higher death rate from coronavirus in polluted neighbourhoods.
“These neighbourhoods are more likely to be poorer with a higher proportion of black and minority ethnic minority BAME communities. The latest research also shows that pollution increases infection rates and may even transport the virus.
“Therefore, it is vitally important that the Prime Minister acts immediately on the emerging science and our wide-ranging proposals backed by scientists, businesses, local authorities and 90 Parliamentarians.
“Air pollution already costs the economy £20 billion and these proposals are capable of generating export income, tax revenue and substantial NHS savings.”