What’s Going On Here?
New research, commissioned by the Clean Air Fund, has found that improving air quality in the UK could boost the economy by £1.6 billion each year.
What Does This Mean?
This new study, conducted by CBI Economics, has found that by reducing premature deaths, sickness absence and lower productivity at work, there’s the potential to save the UK economy billions.
3 million working days(!) are lost each year in the UK as a result of air pollution related illnesses, and parents taking time off work to look after their children. These work absences as a result of poor air quality cost the UK about £600 million a year alone. Combine this with premature deaths, public health costs (GP appointments, hospital walk-ins, asthma medication etc) and the financial burden of air pollution is huge.
The report suggests that if the UK improves air quality in the UK to meet World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, it could boost the economy by £1.6 billion and prevent 17,000 premature deaths every year.
Why Should We Care?
Did you know that air pollution is as serious a public health issue as both cancer and heart disease? Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. Long term exposure to air pollution can cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, lung cancer, worsen asthma and has even been linked to worsened mental health.
Hopefully this report will convince businesses and policy makers to step up their game when it comes to air quality and investing in cleaner transport systems. We know all too well that these things often come down to money, so hopefully the economic benefits of cleaner air will motivate them to make a change.
We don’t need to wait for politicians to do something – there is so much that each of us can do to reduce the air pollution we produce, and reduce our own exposure to dirty air.
This week, our friends at Global Action Plan, launched the UK’s first ever personal Air Pollution Calculator. This handy tool will help you work out your impact on air quality, and the steps you can take to reduce your impact.