Dangerous air pollution is recorded at a quarter of English hospitals: Figures show toxic particles affect more than 10 MILLION patients
- Over 248 hospitals – 17 per cent in UK – have unsafe toxic particle levels in the air
- So 10.5million a year exposed to unhealthy fumes when at their most vulnerable
- Shocking findings were last night branded as ‘unacceptable’ by health experts
One in six hospitals in Britain are sited in areas with dangerous air pollution, research suggests.
More than 248 hospital sites – 17 per cent of all those in the UK – have unsafe levels of toxic particles in the air.
But as much as a quarter of those in England alone are in areas that exceed the limit.
It means 10.5million patients in the UK every year are exposed to unhealthy fumes when their health is already at its most vulnerable.
The findings, compiled by environmental campaigning network UK100, was last night greeted as ‘unacceptable’ by health experts.
Two of the biggest children’s hospitals in the country, Great Ormond Street Hospital (pictured) and Birmingham’s Children Hospital, are located in areas with unsafe levels of pollution
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, welcoming the research, said: ‘Air pollution causes thousands of avoidable hospital admissions and early deaths every year, and affects more than 2,000 GP surgeries and hospitals.
‘Although the NHS can take practical steps to reduce our impact on the environment, as well as treating those suffering the consequences of poor air, we can’t win this fight alone, so the growing consensus on the need for wider action across society is welcome.’
The researchers analysed levels of tiny sooty particles known as PM2.5, which are particularly linked to the emissions of diesel cars.
Simon Stevens (pictured), chief executive of NHS England, welcoming the research, said: ‘Air pollution causes thousands of avoidable hospital admissions and early deaths every year, and affects more than 2,000 GP surgeries and hospitals’
These particles are inhaled deep into the lungs, contributing to diseases such as lung cancer, strokes, diabetes and dementia.
They found London is the worst affected, with 72 per cent of hospitals in areas with unsafe PM2.5 levels.
Two of the biggest children’s hospitals in the country, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Birmingham’s Children Hospital, are located in areas with unsafe levels of pollution.
Polly Billington, director of the UK100 network, said: ‘We urgently need to reduce emissions caused by transport and industrial fumes.
Polly Billington (pictured), director of the UK100 network, said: ‘We urgently need to reduce emissions caused by transport and industrial fumes’
‘Local authorities, the NHS and businesses can work together to reduce non-emergency car journeys and the emissions caused by deliveries to hospitals.
‘But we urgently need new laws and funding from government to tackle this health crisis including clean air zones around city hospitals.’
Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, added: ‘Air pollution may be invisible, but the potentially deadly consequences are very real: it can cause lung cancer, stunt children’s lung growth and makes it even harder to breathe for people with existing lung disease.
‘It’s unacceptable that vulnerable people with NHS appointments are being exposed to toxic air that could make their health worse, and health care professionals have no choice but to breathe air pollution at work. The Government must act now, for the sake of all our health.’
The UK is notoriously bad at controlling air pollution, with 37 cities British cities persistently displaying ‘illegal’ levels of air pollution – which has seen the Government repeatedly hauled into court over the last few years.
The Government’s Clean Air Strategy, promising action to reduce emissions from a variety of sources, was published earlier this year.
But experts said its targets fell well short of international recommendations.