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Respiratory Health 2021

Why we must tackle air pollution for our children

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Larissa Lockwood

Director of Clean Air, Global Action Plan

As we emerge from a global pandemic, we must now look to protect our children’s health from air pollution.

The last year has been a wake-up call for many reasons – our health has been front of mind and we have become much more interested in the air we breathe. Now we need to make the connection from pathogens in the air to pollutants in the air, as both can cause disease. In the same way that we have protected and supported the most vulnerable from COVID-19, we must now protect children from air pollution as they are some of the most at risk to its life limiting impacts.

In 2020 and 2021, we saw our children bear the burden of the pandemic, compromising their freedom, education and mental wellbeing. Now as we return to our lives, we owe it to our children to provide a healthy environment where they can learn and play safely.

Now as we return to our lives, we owe it to our children to provide a healthy environment where they can learn and play safely.

Why children are at risk 

Children are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution because their bodies and brains are still developing. Air pollution not only affects their physical health – impacting lung function development, triggering asthma and causing asthma in some – but also their ability to learn. We need to focus on cleaning up the air as part of our recovery from the pandemic, to help ‘level-up’ and secure the health and educational potential of these future generations.  

Clean Air Day 2021

We have seen the power of Clean Air Day to unite a movement, to bring confidence to talk about the importance of tackling air pollution even in trying times and to push for change. Which is why this year on 17 June, we themed the campaign – “protect our children’s health from air pollution” and we are encouraging individuals and organisations to do something to tackle air pollution and to support and call for wider action.   

Air pollution is not a fact of life and can be solved with collaborative action and education. We must all come together – individuals, schools, businesses, local authorities across the UK to collectively take action and seize this moment to create and support change, for good.  

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity for change. We must use it. 

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