Published: 10:50, 13 January 2020
| Updated: 20:32, 13 January 2020
Almost 5,000 people could die in Kent in the next decade due to air pollution.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has today warned that heart and circulatory disease deaths attributed to particulate air pollution could exceed 21,000 by 2030 in the South East.
KMTV reveal nearly 5,000 lives at risk in Kent
Research shows 600 of those deaths will occur in Medway and 4,300 in the rest of the county.
Previously we reported how breathing in air in north Kent was the equivalent of smoking 140 cigarettes a year.
The charity has launched its 'You're full of it' campaign to highlight the state of the air unwittingly inhaled in our towns and cities.
It says of the government does not adopt tough World Health Organization guidelines into law the problem will continue to get worse.
It’s estimated that up to 11,000 heart and circulatory disease deaths are attributable to particulate air pollution in the UK every year.
“Decision makers across the country owe it to future generations to help stop this alarming figure from becoming a reality..."
Particles build up around the body, including in the fatty plaques of diseased arteries, making existing heart conditions worse and increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Jacob West, executive director of healthcare innovation at the BHF, 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.”
The UK subscribes to EU limits for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which is the pollutant with the most established links to health harms.
However, the limits set by the WHO are more stringent than the EU’s.
The charity is urging people to write to their MPs, asking them to support the inclusion of WHO air pollution guideline limits in the bill.
Dr Mark Miller, a BHF-funded researcher specialising in air pollution, said: “Air pollution is a serious public health issue which affects us all, and evidence of the negative impact toxic air has on our health is increasing all the time. Our research has found that air pollution damages our blood vessels, increasing our risk of blood clots, and in turn heart attacks and stroke.
“While there is no safe level of air pollution exposure, adopting stricter guidelines will do a great deal to protect our health, allowing people to live healthier lives for longer.”
More by this authorEd McConnell