NHS anniversary: Sheffield health leaders issue warning on killer air pollution

Sheffield’s health leaders issued a warning about the dangers of dirty air, saying between five and 10 per cent of deaths could be prevented by reducing air pollution.
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Air pollution is contributing to around 500 early deaths a year in Sheffield and it has been in breach of legal limits for more than a decade.

It is also estimated to cost the UK £20 billion annually.

Greg Fell, director of public health, and Chris Gibbons, public health principle, issued a statement on the threat today – on the 75th anniversary of the NHS.

Director of public health Greg Fell. Sheffield’s health leaders issued a warning about the dangers of dirty air, saying between five and 10 per cent of deaths could be prevented by reducing air pollution.Director of public health Greg Fell. Sheffield’s health leaders issued a warning about the dangers of dirty air, saying between five and 10 per cent of deaths could be prevented by reducing air pollution.
Director of public health Greg Fell. Sheffield’s health leaders issued a warning about the dangers of dirty air, saying between five and 10 per cent of deaths could be prevented by reducing air pollution.
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They said: “Poor air quality makes people sick, worsens existing health conditions, increases pressure on the NHS and ultimately kills people before their time.”

They said it was complicated to quantify the risk of bad air because it was mostly an “invisible danger” but it caused many life-threatening conditions such as lung cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

“There is almost no disease process that is not accelerated by one form of pollution or the other,” they said. “When it comes to air pollution the evidence is clear – there is no ‘safe limit’.”

What is Sheffield Council doing to tackle air pollution?

The council is responsible for managing local air quality under the Environment Act 1995.

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Road transport and industry are the main causes of air pollution in the city.

Earlier this year, the authority implemented a Clean Air Zone - charging the most polluting buses, taxis, lorries and vans driving in the city centre and ring road.

This was part of wider efforts to tackle dirty air which includes retrofitting buses and cracking down on idling.