Public Health England publishes air pollution review

Public Health England (PHE) has published a review of evidence on how to improve air quality, giving recommendations to local and national government on actions they can take.

Local authorities are encouraged to set more ambitious targets for electric car charging points, as well as encouraging low emission fuels and electric cars.

The report urges them to boost investment in clean public transport, as well as foot and cycle paths to improve health.

They are also recommended to redesign cities so people aren’t so close to highly polluting roads and to discourage highly polluting vehicles from entering populated areas - for example, with low emission or clean air zones.

This work could involve designing wider streets, or considering using hedges to screen against pollutants when planning new infrastructure.

Professor Paul Cosford, Director of Health Protection and Medical Director at PHE, said: "We recommend that at a local level, any new policy or programme of work which affects air pollution should aim to deliver an overall benefit to the public’s health.

"So transport and urban planners will need to work together, with others involved in air pollution to ensure that new initiatives have a positive impact.

"Decision makers should carefully design policies, to make sure that the poorest in society are protected against the financial implications of new schemes."

National government policy can support local actions by creating the right incentives. These include policies which promote vehicles with low exhaust emissions or allow controls on industrial emissions in populated areas to take account of health impacts.