MORE than 160,000 people could die over the next decade from strokes and heart attacks caused by air pollution, a charity has warned.
This is equivalent to more than 40 deaths a day from heart and circulatory disease related to toxic air, said the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
There are an estimated 11,000 deaths per year at the moment but this will rise as the population continues to age, said the BHF.
It wants the UK to adopt stricter World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on air pollution and meet them by 2030.
‘Millions of us are inhaling toxic particles which enter our blood and get stuck in our organs, raising our risk of heart attacks and stroke,’ said Jacob West, BHF’s executive director of healthcare innovation.
‘Our toxic air is a public health emergency, and we haven’t done enough to tackle this threat. 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.’
The UK comfortably meets current EU limits for fine particulate matter pollution, which are 25 micrograms per metre cubed, compared with WHO limits of ten micrograms per metre.
Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: ‘Our landmark environment bill will include a commitment to a legally binding target on fine particulate matter which will improve the quality of millions of people’s lives.’