The Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) (Wales) Bill – our response
We welcome the need for clean air legislation and have been calling for a ‘Clean Air Act’ since 2017.
Download Healthy Air Cymru’s consultation response
There is no safe level of air pollution. An air pollutant is any substance in the air that could harm people. Particulate matter, known as PM, and nitrogen dioxide are particularly damaging.
We also know that deprived communities are often in areas with higher levels of air pollution, contributing to health inequalities. When people are exposed to high pollution levels, for example on a busy road or during a high pollution episode, they breathe in these toxic materials into their lungs. As well as longer term impacts, many people initially experience immediate symptoms such as irritated airways, feeling out of breath and coughing.
Poor air quality has been linked to several conditions, with growing emerging evidence that highlights the high levels of air pollution impacting every level of society by increasing the chances of lung cancer, childhood asthma, COPD, miscarriage, premature birth/low birth weight, heart disease, dementia, mental health, obesity and, many other conditions.
Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to public health, second only to smoking. At a cost £1bn per year to our NHS, air pollution is draining our resources, straining our health system and cutting short almost 2000 lives a year in Wales. It is a public health crisis. Air pollution also has a damaging impact on nature, and emissions from pollutants also contribute to climate change, worsening the climate and nature emergency that we urgently face.