Thu 21 Jun 2018
More than 4.5m affected, says UN group, while tests suggest children’s shorter height increases exposure on busy roads
More than 4.5 million children in the UK are growing up in areas with toxic levels of air pollution, the UN children’s organisation Unicef has warned.
Tests suggesting that children walking along busy roads are exposed to a third more air pollution than adults, as their shorter height places them close to passing car exhausts, were also released on Thursday.
The Unicef report found that almost a third of under-18s live in places with unsafe levels of small particulate pollution, including 1.6 million under-fives and 270,000 babies. The analysis is based on the World Health Organization limit set in 2005, which is 60% lower than the legal limit in England and Wales.
The UK government has lost three times in the high court for failing to deal with illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution and is now being taken to Europe’s highest court. On Wednesday, MPs from four select committees said serious concerns remained over the government’s commitment to reducing the impact of air pollution on public health. The latest government action plan sets a goal to halve the number of people living in areas above WHO particulate limits by 2025.