Despite improvements in air quality in the UK over recent decades, current levels of air pollution continue to have a significant effect on health. Both long and short-term exposure to air pollution are known to adversely affect health and air pollution is still the largest environmental risk linked to deaths every year.
- Over 100 deaths a year in Southampton are attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution.
- Air pollution has the same equivalent impact as passive smoking.
- Particulates are known to contribute to heart disease and lung cancer.
- Air pollution can affect some individuals who are more vulnerable to harm, including those with heart and lung diseases, (including asthma) children and the elderly.
Greater details around the health effects of pollution can be found on the Defra website.
What can you do to protect your health?
- Walk or cycle because on an average day, that will expose you to lower levels of pollution than if you use a car.
- You can monitor the air quality in your local area through the Government UK Air site. The Daily Air Quality Index (DAQI) tells you about levels of air pollution and provides recommended actions and health advice.
On days when there are high levels of air pollution in the city:
- Reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outside if you have problems with your heart or lungs, and especially if you experience any symptoms.
- People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often.
- Older people should reduce physical exertion on these days.