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Birmingham Children's Hospital
Steelhouse Lane Birmingham, West Midlands
B4 6NH West Midlands

Hospital experts urge urgent action to tackle city’s ‘invisible killer’ air pollution problem

Dr Chris Chiswell with a respiratory patient

Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust is urging people to take action to tackle air pollution - the invisible killer that contributes to nearly 900 deaths a year in the city.

This National Clean Air Day (Thursday 15 June) everyone is being encouraged to think about how they can play a part and make their own personal pledge to help combat the issue that affects thousands of young people each year.

Children living in high pollution areas are four times more likely to have a reduced lung function and there’s evidence it also contributes to a range of conditions including prematurity, low birth weight, and congenital abnormalities, such as cardiac problems, asthma and childhood leukaemia.

In adults it’s known to increase the chances of cancer and diabetes, along with heart and lung disease.

Dr Chris Chiswell, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Although we often can’t see poor air quality, it hurts all of us, and takes six months of life expectancy off some people in our cities. We can no longer pretend that this is someone else’s problem, and we all need to take steps now to reduce pollution, avoid its harms and speak out together to call for change.

“Each and every day we treat and care for women, children and families who are already feeling the negative impacts of poor air quality; doing nothing is no longer an option.

“All of us can play a part in making things better – whether that be as individuals making changes or as part of organisations helping drive improvements. We’d urge everyone to think about the positive difference they could make, take action and then spread the word with family, friends and colleagues.”

The message this National Clean Air Day is to:

Reduce pollution by hopping out of the car and taking to the streets to bike or walk – people in cars are more exposed to pollution than those walking or cycling along the same road;

Talk about the issue in your area and communities, ask what your school or employer is doing to back the campaign and share ideas;

Avoid travelling by car wherever possible and think about your travel routes.

Along with others across the country Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust is pledging to spread awareness and will launch a citizen science project later this year working with local schools to build a sensor network across the city to help measure, record and visualise air quality across the area.

Dr Chiswell added:

“We’re hugely excited about working with schools to create an air quality sensor network across our city. We’ll be handing them the tools to gather their own data to ensure these important conversations continue to happen. We’re confident young people are the best people to hold us to account for their futures.”

Register your school to join our air quality sensor science project.

To find out more about National Clean Air Day log on to www.cleanairday.org.uk

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