William Eichler 19 August 2019

Over 10 million patients in hospitals with ‘dangerous pollution levels’

Nearly a quarter of hospitals in England are located in areas with poor air quality, new research reveals.

UK100, a network of local leaders that campaigns on clean air and climate change, has found that one in four hospitals in England and nearly one in five across the UK are in areas that exceed safe levels of PM2.5 air pollution.

An estimated 10.5 million patients could be visiting a hospital with dangerous pollution levels, UK100 warned.

Originally commissioned by the British Lung Foundation, the analysis found that 72% of hospitals in London were affected.

It also discovered that 95 hospitals were breaching guidelines, while 36% of hospitals in the East Midlands were above limits, as were nearly a third (32.5%) in the East of England.

‘We urgently need to reduce emissions caused by transport and industrial fumes,’ said Polly Billington, director of the UK100 network.

‘Local authorities, the NHS and businesses can work together to reduce non-emergency car journeys and the emissions caused by deliveries to hospitals.

‘But we urgently need new laws and funding from government to tackle this health crisis including Clean Air Zones around city hospitals.’

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: ‘Air pollution causes thousands of avoidable hospital admissions and early deaths every year, and affects more than 2,000 GP surgeries and hospitals.

‘That is why the NHS is committed to playing our part – cutting emissions from the NHS fleet by 20% by 2024, cutting our reliance on fossil fuels for power, and reforming services to reduce the number of visits that people need to make to hospital.

‘But although the NHS can take practical steps to reduce our impact on the environment, as well as treating those suffering the consequences of poor air, we can’t win this fight alone, so the growing consensus on the need for wider action across society is welcome.’

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