The majority of older people are living in areas with illegal levels of air pollution, putting their health at risk, research has revealed.
More than seven million people aged 60 and over live in places which breached air quality limits in 2015.
The Chief Medical Officer yesterday warned that Brits were being put at risk by a ‘daily cocktail’ of diesel fumes.
Dame Sally Davies said pollution was a major public health threat – fuelling heart attacks, cancer, lung disease and stress.
The Chief Medical Officer yesterday warned that Brits were being put at risk by a ‘daily cocktail’ of diesel fumes
Air pollution, including diesel, claims around 40,000 lives in the UK each year, mainly through heart and lung conditions.
More than half of those aged 60 or over live in an area in England which breached air quality limits for nitrogen dioxide in 2015, the data revealed. The figures, from the House of Commons Library analysis by Labour, revealed those at risk included 3.7million aged 70 and over, 1.45million aged 80 and over and 257,000 aged 90 and over.
In London alone, 1.35million aged 60 and over lived in areas breaching pollution limits, including 691,000 aged 70 and over and 276,000 aged 80 and over.
In Yorkshire and the Humber, 79 per cent aged 60 and over lived in areas breaching air quality standards, followed by the North East (72 per cent), North West (67 per cent) and the West Midlands (62 per cent).
Previous research found that more than 38million across the UK in 2015 lived in areas where air quality breached legal limits, including over 8.3million under 18s.
Dame Sally Davies (pictured) said pollution was a major public health threat – fuelling heart attacks, cancer, lung disease and stress
The European Commission, which enforces rules on air quality limits, yesterday called for the UK ‘to address this life-threatening problem with the urgency it deserves’. Environment Secretary Michael Gove has promised to ‘consult’ on a new body after Brexit. But last month, the High Court ruled that the plans to improve air pollution were ‘unlawful’ and urged the Government to enforce compliance.
A Defra spokesman said: ‘It’s wrong to assume the entire population of a local authority is exposed to pollution above legal limits as nitrogen dioxide levels are only exceeded in certain hotspots, like being next to a particular road.’
It added: ‘We recognise there is more to do, which is why we have put in place a £3.5billion plan to improve air quality and reduce harmful emissions.’