Grahame Morris MP has co-signed a letter to the Prime Minister, co-ordinated by Geraint Davies MP, about the need to improve air quality in the wake of the pandemic.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution has put together the ‘Air Quality Strategy to Reduce Coronavirus,’ which comprises twelve sets of proposals to ensure a clean air trajectory out of the coronavirus lockdown. The proposals are science-based, holistic, inclusive and realistic. They encompass: working, cycling and pedestrianisation, public transport, private transport, face masks, wood and coal burning, agriculture, home delivery services, indoor air quality, sustainable industry, and data collection and research.
Research which informed the APPG’s June report suggested that COVID-19 death rates, and the likelihood of infection, are both directly related to air pollution. The letter explains that, ‘specifically, a 1 micro-gramme per cubic metre increase in PM2.5 particulates equates to a significant increase in infection rates and an 8% increase in COVID deaths.’
Across Europe, air pollution accounts for 470,000 premature deaths. 64,000 of these early deaths occur in the UK, at a cost of £20billion, before the pandemic. The UK ranked 496th in terms of average annual concentration of PM2.5, with 1st being the highest concentration, and 650th the lowest.
Whilst there are an estimated 11,000 air pollution related deaths due to heart and circulatory diseases each year in the UK, air pollution causes harm to healthy people too. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that there is no safe level of exposure to air pollution.
The proposals set out in the report aim to avoid, or minimise, a second peak in infection as we emerge from lockdown and to set a clear pathway for a healthier, greener recovery. MPs state, ‘the public has benefitted from cleaner air during the lockdown and these proposals will support investment in a stronger, more sustainable economy and exports platform.’
According to WHO guidelines, levels on PM2.5 should not exceed an annual average of 10 micrograms/m3. The average annual concentration of PM2.5 in Easington was 6.78 micrograms/m3 in 2017.
Grahame Morris MP said, “I fully support the proposals set out in the report by the APPG for Air Pollution. The statistics for air quality-related deaths remain staggeringly high. Given that these deaths are avoidable, it is vital that the government seriously considers these proposals.”