NHS and social care costs of air pollution calculated

Public Health England has released a new report and cost tool which calculates that the health and social care costs of air pollution in England could reach £5.3 billion by 2035.

The plan is that local authorities will be able to use the calculative tool to inform their policies to improve air quality and estimate the impact on health and the savings to the NHS and social care under different air pollution scenarios.

The government has continuously reiterated how local authorities are ideally placed to introduce policies to minimise air pollution, especially given the legal air quality powers they have to tackle it locally. Impacting on health, housing, transport, education, local economies, green space and quality of life, local government policy is key in the push to tackle air pollution.

Last year, the costs to health and social care were calculated at £42.88 million, but, unless action is taken, PHE estimates that it will reach £5.3 billion. The costs are for diseases where there is a strong association with air pollution: coronary heart disease; stroke; lung cancer; and child asthma.

Paul Cosford, Medical Director and Director of Health Protection at PHE, said: “Air pollution is a growing threat to the public’s health, evidence shows it has a strong causal association with coronary heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and childhood asthma. PHE has created a new air pollution tool so, for the first time, local authorities can calculate the cost of air pollution, providing impetus to act to improve air quality.”

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