74% of UK residents want stronger Government air pollution targets

Three-quarters of Britons believe Downing Street is not doing enough to tackle the air pollution crisis as Every Breath Counts campaign launches. 

When the UK Environment Bill was unveiled late-2021 campaigners were quick to point out a number of shortcomings, not least the absence of new World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended limits on air pollution, with Westminster’s proposals significantly higher levels of many pollutants which are proven health risks. 

grayscale photo of clouds in sky

Now a new poll of UK residents has shown that three quarters (74%) of the population agrees the Government needs to do more and go further with air pollution targets, and increase monitoring capacity. A key driver for this is likely to be the fact that 45% of respondents believe they have experienced asthmatic symptoms as a result of exposure to air pollution, with around 53% of people now claiming to be worried about the impact of a toxic atmosphere on their ability to run and exercise outside. 

The survey has been unveiled to coincide with the launch of Every Breath Counts, a new global campaign led by World Athletics which has the aim of getting young people across the planet to sign the Declaration for Clean Air, calling on local authorities, national governments, and businesses to urgently agree to and impose targets in line with WHO’s own. 

‘In Kenya, ambient air pollution is the fourth biggest risk factor driving death and disability combined. It saddens me to think about how this will hinder the next generation of aspiring athletes, and how it’s destroying the health of our people. I hope others will join together with us to campaign for urgent action to improve air quality,’ said David Rudisha, retired Kenyan middle-distance runner, Olympic champion, and spokesperson for Every Breath Counts. 

The campaign’s study – which also involved people in the U.S., France and India – revealed overall 65% of all those who took part say their government is not taking the problem seriously, while 85% believe clean air is a human right. Unsurprisingly, India was home to the highest percentage of citizens concerned about air pollution stopping them from taking exercise. Earlier this month, data was released showing India records more air pollution deaths than any other nation, with wildfires causing huge problems across many states this year as a result of heatwaves and record breaking temperatures, raising concerns about a significant increase in air pollution. 


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