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. In 71% of UK towns and cities, 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?
The UK Government has the power to put children’s health at the heart of it’s work on air pollution. The current strategy on air pollution is not ambitious enough, nor does it prioritise action for children. This poses a direct threat to a child’s right to health.
Huge health gains could be made if funding in the UK was targeted towards reducing children’s exposure where they learn and play. By adding your name to our campaign we can make sure the Government puts children at the heart of their air quality strategy so that children are no longer forced to breathe deadly toxic air.
How will the Budget help protect children from toxic air?
In this year’s Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced £20 million of additional funding to support more local authorities to meet their air quality obligations. Whilst this is a welcome first step, unfortunately this funding does not go far enough to protect the most vulnerable in our society whose health we know is affected by toxic air.
We urgently need further action and attention to protect the health of the most vulnerable in our society from the impact of air pollution.
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, “The Toxic School Run”, which has found that children are often the most exposed on the school run, and while they’re at school or nursery.
- 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…
Small steps can make a huge difference, but ultimately we need the Government to step up and take action on toxic air.