The RCP has submitted written evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry on Outdoor and indoor air quality targets.
The Environmental Audit Committee opened its inquiry into Outdoor and indoor air quality targets on 10 May 2023. The RCP submitted written evidence to the inquiry making clear that policy makers must go further in their efforts than required by current legal targets to improve air quality.
Professor Sir Stephen Holgate, the RCP’s special advisor for air quality, has since given oral evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee inquiry on the government's outdoor and indoor air quality targets.
Our main points were:
- Air pollution plays a role in many of the major health challenges we face today and has been linked to cancer, asthma, COPD, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and changes linked to dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
- Air pollution is harmful to everyone, but some people suffer more than others because they live in deprived areas, which often have higher levels of air pollution; live, learn or work near busy roads; and are more vulnerable because of their age or existing medical conditions.
- The government’s target of reducing the annual mean concentration of fine particulate matter PM2.5 to 10μg m-3 by 2040 is not sufficiently ambitious. Current air quality targets set out in legislation under the Environment Act and the subsequent Environmental Improvement Plan should be viewed as a floor not a ceiling.
- The RCP’s response to the government’s 2022 public consultation called for annual mean concentration of fine particulate matter PM2.5 to be reduced to 10μg m-3 as soon as possible, and by 2030 at the very latest, with a longer-term objective of reaching 5μg m-3, line with WHO’s updated air quality guideline values.
- Even without a formal legislative mandate to reduce levels of PM2.5 to 10μg m-3 by 2030, the RCP is clear that policy makers can go further than required by current legal targets in their efforts to improve air quality, and doing so would yield significant public health benefits.
Read more about the RCP’s work in tackling air pollution.