The Chief Medical Officers Annual Report for air pollution in the UK has been released, providing great insight into air pollution in the UK. While the report is 366 pages in its entirety, it provides fantastic insights into the current air pollution situation in the UK. While the information applies only to the country, many of the overall themes can be carried over to air pollution in other developed countries too.
Overall, air pollution has decreased significantly since the 1980s, similar to most high-income countries. This is due to stricter regulations and bans on pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (from coal) and lead (from petrol). While there is still much room for improvement, air pollution continues to decline in many developed countries, including the UK.
Since 1970, PM2.5 and PM10 levels have decreased to around 20% of their previous concentrations. Furthermore, other pollutants such as non-methane VOCs and nitrogen oxides are vastly less than they were even three decades ago. While these improvements are fantastic and show we can improve air quality, more work can still be done.
The Chief Medical Officer’s report highlights the improvements that can be made in sectors such as engineering for transport and industry, and agriculture. While the improvements in air quality are worth it alone, improvements in these sectors will also allow us to see co-benefits in other sectors.
The report is incredibly detailed and covers everything from the current situation to how air pollution is changing. It also discusses in detail the differences between indoor and outdoor air pollution and the implications both can have on our lives. If you want to learn more about where we currently stand regarding air pollution, we highly recommend reading the report, which can be found here.