Doctors Against Diesel are calling for government level action to support local efforts to reduce air pollution. Without government support for the phase out of diesel local authorities can only take limited action to reduce the single biggest source of nitrogen dioxide.
This letter was sent on 14th February 2017. For more info, please see our press release
We will also be running a workshop on Weds 22 February at the Royal College of GPs if you would like to learn more, get involved and meet other health professionals keen to support this campaign.
Dear Prime Minister,
Re. Phasing Out Diesel
We are writing as doctors, nurses and health professionals from across the UK to ask for government action to remove the current fleet of diesel vehicles from the road as soon as possible.
We are encouraged that you said in parliament that ‘nobody in this house doubts the importance of the issue of air quality’. We also note the view of your Chief Medical Officer, that diesel vehicles should be phased out. No doubt you are aware of the evidence regarding the adverse health consequences of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and black carbon (soot) emissions. There is strong and growing evidence for a wide range of life-course health effects from these pollutants. For example, in infants and children there is strong evidence, including data from children in London, that exposure to fossil fuel-derived air pollution stunts lung growth.
We are asking you to focus on diesel because 45% of NOx emissions come from road transport in Greater London. Modelling has shown that, alongside other measures, the percentage of cars that are diesel will need to be reduced from 57% to 5% of the total if Greater London is to become compliant with legal limits on NO2 emissions.
Although London is especially affected by diesel emissions, we need national action against diesel vehicles (cars, vans, taxis and light trucks). There are now 585 Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in the UK – this means that the majority of local authorities now have a statutory duty to take action on illegal levels of air pollution in at least one area. However, the options available to local authorities when creating Clean Air Zones or seeking to tackle AQMAs do not include powers to ban the single biggest source of pollution – diesel vehicles.
A national diesel reduction initiative, led by government, will represent a major public health advance. However, time is running out, since the lung damage caused by diesel fumes in this generation of young children will become permanent within 5 years.
Jonathan Grigg, Professor of Paediatric Respiratory and Environmental Medicine, Queen Mary University London
Chris Griffiths, Professor of Primary Care, Queen Mary University London
Alice Munro, Medact
Thank you to all who signed
To find out more, key references include:
- Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution, The Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Paediatric and Child health (2016), available at: http://www.ippr.org/files/publications/pdf/lethal-and-illegal-solving-londons-air-pollution-crisis_summary_Nov2016.pdf?noredirect=1
- Understanding the Health Impacts of Air Pollution in London, Kings College London (2015) available at: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/research/divisions/aes/research/ERG/research-projects/HIAinLondonKingsReport14072015final.pdf
- Lethal and Illegal: Solving London’s Air Pollution Crisis, Institute of Public Policy Research (2016) Available at: http://www.ippr.org/files/publications/pdf/lethal-and-illegal-solving-londons-air-pollution-crisis_summary_Nov2016.pdf?noredirect=