WHY IS AIR QUALITY IMPORTANT?
Air pollution is one of the largest environmental risks to public health in the UK and contributes to shortening and reducing the quality of life for thousands. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is widely understood to be the pollutant that is the most damaging to health and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has been identified by The European Environment Agency as the cause of 11,940 premature deaths in 2013 in the UK.
Air quality and climate change are intimately connected, with many common causes. Making major improvements to air quality will make an important contribution to reducing the threat of climate change.
The onset of Covid-19 has raised the issue of air pollution to new heights with national and international studies to investigate the connection between nitrogen dioxide, PM2.5 and the transmission of coronavirus and the extent to which the recovery of Covid –19 patients is adversely affected by air pollution.
The lockdown implemented as a consequence of Covid-19 presented a unique opportunity to measure air quality in favourable circumstances. Further programmes of measurement will establish the extent to which pollutants are increasing and in which local areas.