Laura Sharman 21 June 2018

Millions of children exposed to ‘toxic’ air pollution, charity warns

One in three children in the UK are growing up in areas with dangerous levels of air pollution, new research by Unicef has revealed.

The charity found 4.5 million children – including 270,000 babies under one – are living in the UK’s most toxic air zones. Nearly three-quarters of the local authorities with the largest proportion of babies living in them, breached safe levels of air pollution.

It is calling on the Government to accept air pollution is a children’s health crisis and prioritise and fund measures that target the worst-polluted areas.

‘We already know that air pollution is harmful, but these findings force us to face a shocking reality about the acute impact on children’s health,’ said Amy Gibbs, Unicef UK’s director of advocacy. ‘Worryingly, one-third of our children could be filling their lungs with toxic air that puts them at risk of serious, long-term health conditions.

‘It’s unacceptable that the most vulnerable members of society, who contribute the least to air pollution, are the ones suffering most from its effects. We wouldn’t make our children drink dirty water, so why are we allowing them to breathe dirty air?’

ClientEarth CEO, James Thornton, added: 'If the water they were drinking was as dirty as the air they are breathing, the Government would move heaven and earth to clean it up.'

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