Westminster Working Party to focus on air pollution and dementia

The Westminster Commission for Road Air Quality (WCRAQ) will focus on the threat to cognitive health in later life for its latest meeting , which takes place this week.

Set to be held at Imperial College, London, one of the leading academic institutions researching air pollution and its impact on public health, the event will feature Professor Frank Kelly. Among other things, he currenty holds the inaugural Humphrey Battcock Chair in Community Public Health and Policy at the university’s School of Public Health. 

white concrete building near body of water during night time

This latest Working Party meeting will take place on Thursday 23rd February at 1PM. Anyone eligible who would like to attend the event should email with an expression of interest and request for more information.

News of the event comes just weeks after the WCRAQ celebrated three years of air quality achievements. It’s Annual Parliamentary Reception, which took place last month, saw record attendance, with more than 100 guests welcomed to the Terrace Pavilion at the Houses of Parliament. A clear sign of the traction behind air quality and air pollution campaigns, and growing awareness of the hazards posed by dirty air, among other things the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill, was on the agenda. 

‘Human beings have an inalienable right to breathe clean air,’ said WCRAQ Chairman Barry Sheerman during his welcome speech. ‘The Westminster Commission has worked tirelessly to make this a reality. Over the last three years, we have held over 80 Working Party meetings. We have asked over 100 air quality-related questions in Parliament and sent seven letters to senior government officials, generating cross-party support from MPs and Peers.

‘We tabled our diesel particulate testing at MOT Bill and our local authority air quality audit Bill. These are still ongoing in Parliament, and I will do my second reading for the DPF bill very soon. I hope that the Government will commit to supporting the Bill. I have had good conversations with officials from the relevant Departments,’ he continued. 

The Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill will undergo its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday 24th February. The proposed act is also known as Ella’s Law in honour of nine-year-old Ella Adoo Kissi Debrah, the first person in Britain to have air pollution listed as a cause of death. Last week marked a decade since her tragic passing. Air Quality News spoke to the artist responsible for a three-day light installation which took place at London’s Southbank to commemorate the anniversary. Find out what they had to say here.

Image: Yaopey Yong


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1 year ago

“Human beings have an inalienable right to breathe clean air,’ said WCRAQ Chairman Barry Sheerman”. But who says so? The dictionary meaning of inalienable that I found says ” not subject to being taken away from or given away by the possessor”. Sadly, in many countries no such right seems to exist and with so much pollution in the air (water, soil and even their food), it’s hard to see how this can be achievable in the near future. In the Uk we may ahve that right in theory which is as it should be, but in practice in the real world does this really pertain? For example, if I tell my neighbour his right to enjoy his bonfire comes at the cost of my children being able to play and sleep without coughing and having to use asthma inhalers because of the smoke, I think you can bet who will “win”? The problem is proving what counts as “clean” air. Bonfires (let alone stoves) have not been banned for making the air dirty and unhealthy have they? It seems to me that the onus is always on the persons who suffer, who maybe be losing their right to breathe properly (i.e. clean-ish air?) because as it is such smoke is only seen as a mild “nuisance” by many, an “ordinary harm” even. The same goes with diesel exhaust from idling engines outside school gates. Telling the offending parent to turn their engine off, as it is others’ inalienable right to breathe clean(er) air, is not usually very well received. This is why we need legislation as well as fancy words.

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