You can’t see it, but right here in the UK, there is a dangerous threat to children’s health: Toxic air.
Day in, day out, our children are breathing dangerously high levels of air pollution. Across 86% of the UK, children are breathing in harmful levels of toxic air. Toxic air can harm their lungs, damage the development of their brains and stunt their growth. And it could leave them with lasting problems like asthma, badly affecting their futures.
“It can give you asthma,” says nine-year-old Jess. “If you don’t breathe clean air you can get lung disease but it can also affect your intelligence.”
Children are the least responsible for polluting the air but the most vulnerable to its harmful effects. This is wrong. Every child has the right to health. Every child has the right to live, learn and play in a clean and safe environment.
How can we protect children from toxic air?
Current national action on toxic air lacks ambition and direction, leaving children at risk of serious harm. The government admits that toxic levels of pollution are likely to continue for another decade, but there is no plan to protect children in the meantime. Without specific commitment and funding to reduce children’s exposure to harmful pollutants, they remain dangerously vulnerable.
Until healthy air quality levels are reached across the UK, the government has a responsibility to protect children from the harmful effects of toxic air. That’s why we’re calling on them to:
- Commit to targets that reduce toxic air in the UK to the legal levels recommended by the World Health Organisation.
- Create an action plan across UK Government Departments, including those with responsibility for the environment, health and transport, that protects children from toxic air.
- Set up a Little Lungs Fund for Local Authorities to pay for changes to keep children safe from toxic air where they live, learn and play.
By adding your name today, we can make sure the government hear loud and clear that urgent action is needed to protect children from harm to their health and futures.
It’s especially important for children because they want to be healthy for the life ahead of them.
If they’re healthy when they’re a kid they’re more likely to have a better life when they’re older.
What else can you do right now?
As well as adding your name to the campaign, there’s plenty more to do.
- Read our latest briefing, “Healthy Air for Every Child: A Call for National Action”, which sets out the critical steps that the government must take to protect children from toxic air.
- Find out more about air pollution in your local area and grab some top health tips on the Government’s air quality website.
- Take some of the steps outlined below in your every day life to protect yourself from polluted air.
Despite how serious a risk this is to our children, little public money is being targeted to tackle toxic air where children live, learn and play. There are measures that can make a real difference. But our children’s health is not being prioritised. Every child should be able to look towards a long, happy life; no child should be unhealthy because of the air that they breathe. The time to act is now.