17 city leaders across England and Wales have teamed up to demand that Theresa May takes necessary action to combat air pollution.
The leaders, which represent over 20 million people across the country, have signed a letter that calls for a nationwide plan to clean up the air. The leaders include Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.
Mr Khan commented: “Thousands of people across our city and country are suffering from toxic air. London stands side by side with every city in the UK battling to tackle air so lethal it shortens lives.”
Previously, Sadiq Khan has implemented several measures to combat London’s air pollution. This includes; the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone and spending more than £300 million to transform London’s public transport by phasing out pure diesel double deck buses.
The letter is a result of the first-ever National Clean Air Summit which took place in June this year. The letter states “Our country’s polluted air is shortening lives, damaging our children’s lungs and severely impacting on the NHS as well as costing the economy in working days lost.”
It is reported that 40,000 deaths per year are related to air pollution. In England, the total NHS and social care cost due to PM, an urban background pollutant, in 2017 was estimated to be over £41 million.
A government spokesman said: “Although air quality has improved in recent years, with nitrogen oxide emissions falling by 27% and sulphur dioxide emissions down 60%, we recognise there is more to do. That is why we are taking action through our £3.5 billion plan to reduce harmful emissions and our ambitious new Clean Air Strategy which has been welcomed by the WHO.”
This follows a study, conducted in China, which found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic.