Healthy Air

Health professionals treat the impacts of air pollution on a daily basis.  The recent report Every Breath We Take, by the Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health and The Royal College of Physicians, concluded that:

“Each year in the UK, around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution which plays a role in many of the major health challenges of our day. It has been linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia.”

In addition: “The health problems resulting from exposure to air pollution have a high cost… In the UK, these costs add up to more than £20 billion every year.”

In June 2016 Medact joined the Healthy Air Campaign, a coalition of organisations and individuals campaigning for improved air quality, in particular the phase out of diesel.  Diesel impacts on health via the direct effects of nitrogen oxides in black carbon, and because black carbon is a greenhouse gas and contributes to climate change.

Food and Agriculture

Air pollution cuts across Medact’s work on both energy systems and agriculture.  This BMJ blog highlights the importance of demanding ambitious targets from the EU National Emissions Ceiling directive, which seeks to limit methane emissions from agriculture, as well as other pollutants from all sectors of the economy.


Medact have produced extensive research on the potential health impacts of shale gas fracturing (‘fracking’) in the UK, including outlining the potential risk of respiratory effects resulting from fracking related ozone and smog formation.

Looking forward

In December 2016 Medact’s conference will cover in-depth the impacts of air pollution on health, and co-benefits to health of measures to tackle air pollution.   Over the next year we plan to build on the interest of our members in this issue to strengthen the voice of the health community in the healthy air campaign.