Analysis carried out by the Labour Party has suggested that more than half of the UK’s over 60s (56%) live in areas that are in breach of legal limits on nitrogen dioxide air pollution.
According to the Party, this amounts to over 7 million older people aged 60 and over lived in areas which breached legal pollution limits in 2015.
This included: 3.7 million people aged 70 and over, 1.45 million people aged 80 and over and 257,000 people aged 90 and over.
Figures were drawn from House of Commons Library analysis of ‘Local authorities which observed levels of NO2 exceeded legal limits in 2015’.
The figures suggested that outside of London the highest number of people aged 60 breaching air quality limits and over was in the North West (1.13 million), followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (996,000), the West Midlands (836,000) and the South East (817,000).
The East of England (26%) had the lowest percentage of people aged 60 and over living in areas breaching limits a total of just under 395,000 people, Labour claimed. In London alone 1.35 million people aged 60 and over lived in areas breaching pollution limits including 691,000 aged 70 and over and 276,000 aged 80 and over, the data suggested.
Labour has pledged to introduce a new Clean Air Act to address air pollution, should it be elected to power. The Party previously made the pledge in its 2017 General Election manifesto – although it has not indicated how this potential legislation would take shape.
Commenting on the figures, Sue Hayman, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, said: “It cannot be right that the majority of older people live in areas with illegally poor and polluted air.
“Despite losing repeatedly in the courts on this issue, spending taxpayers’ money whilst doing so, the Government has completely failed to act on air pollution.
“Labour has promised a new Clear Air Act to get a grip on this escalating public health emergency.â€?