Around one in three children are growing up in areas of the UK with dangerous levels of air pollution. This can leave them with lasting health problems, including stunted lung growth and increased risk of asthma and pneumonia. Toxic particulates can also travel through the mother’s placenta wall, badly affecting the development of the foetus.
Toxic air not only violates a child’s right to health, but also their future. It could impact their right to education, their right to play and ultimately, their right to life.
Children and young people’s health remains absent from current policies and current national action on toxic air lacks ambition and direction, leaving children – the most vulnerable – at risk of serious harm. The government admits that toxic levels of pollution are likely to persist for another decade, yet there is no national action plan in place to protect children in the meantime.
Our government has a responsibility to protect children and young people from toxic air. Unicef UK’s latest report makes the evidence-based case for the UK government taking the following action to protect children across the UK from toxic air:
- Set legally binding targets to meet World Health Organisation-recommended limit values for particulate matter across the UK by 2030, and take urgent action to meet existing targets on Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).
- Commit to a cross-governmental Healthy Air for Children Action Plan that sets out a national framework to protect children and young people from toxic air where they are most at risk.
- Commit to a Little Lungs Fund, providing ring-fenced funding to protect children and young people from toxic air amounting to a minimum of £200 million in the first year and yearly replenishments until 2030, or as long as air pollution levels remain unhealthy.
Find out more by reading our report and join the campaign today.