The British Lung Foundation (BLF) hosted a ‘Clean Air Champions’ event in Liverpool on Tuesday (28 January), where over 50 healthcare professionals and policymakers from across the Liverpool City Region gathered to discuss air quality.
The event coincided with the publication of a major new report commissioned by the charity and UK100 and conducted by King’s College London, that linked over 1,000 deaths a year in the region to air pollution exposure.
Road transport was identified as the primary source of the Liverpool City Region’s toxic air. All Local authorities including Knowsley, Halton, Liverpool City, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral, had areas that either breached current legal limits set by the EU for NO2 or exceeded the recommended guideline set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on PM2.5.
Presenting the findings on behalf of the BLF, Sarah MacFadyen, head of policy and public affairs, said: ‘Our research identified areas of illegal or dangerous levels of air pollution across all six local authorities in the Liverpool City Region.’
‘There are more than 95,000 people in the region already living with COPD and a further 44,000 with asthma, much higher figures than the national average for lung disease. Whilst air pollution is damaging to everybody, those with lung conditions are at immediate risk of symptom flare-ups and hospitalisation and would benefit the most from the proposed clean air plans.”
MacFadyen continued: ‘Health inequalities were also identified across the region with people from the most deprived communities where car ownership is low, living in areas with the highest concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter, both of which are damaging to all our health.
‘Along with our Clean Air Champions, we are calling on central government to urgently introduce tougher legally binding targets on air pollution which are in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.’
MacFadyen chaired a panel discussion with Cllr Liam Robinson of Kensington & Fairfield, chair of the transport committee of Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA); and Liverpool City Council’s Colleen Martin, programme manager for the Liverpool Clean Air Zone (CAZ).
Whilst discussing Liverpool City Council’s clean air proposals, Martin stressed that more must be done to tackle the broader air pollution issues throughout the region: ‘A clean air zone alone won’t do it. It has got to be supported by active travel. It has got to be supported by cleaner public transport.”
Robinson, who presented Liverpool City Region’s draft clean air plans added: “We need a more coordinated approach to tackling air pollution in Liverpool.”
Read more by visiting the British Lung Foundation’s Clean Air Champions hub.