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Clean Air Day: How we are working to tackle air pollution

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Today (8 October) is Clean Air Day 2020, a nationwide awareness day to increase people’s understanding of the effects of air pollution.

There is coverage this morning in the i paper, the Times, Guardian and Daily Mail of two reports from the charity Global Action Plan, developed in collaboration with Manchester University, on the impact of air pollution on children’s cognitive development.

We know that air pollution is a major public health risk and poses the single greatest environmental risk to human health. That’s why we are continuing to take urgent action to curb the impact air pollution has on communities across England through our ambitious Clean Air Strategy and the delivery of our £3.8 billion plan to clean up transport and tackle NO2 pollution.

We work closely with Public Health England and advisory bodies such as the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants and the Air Quality Expert Group to keep abreast of research on the impact of air pollution on public health. However, further research is needed to fully understand any links between air quality and children’s cognitive development.

Our Air Quality Grant Programme provides funding to local authorities to tackle local air pollution, including around schools. More than £64 million has been awarded through the Air Quality Grant since it was launched in 1997.

Through the Environment Bill, we are also enabling greater local action by ensuring responsibility for tackling air pollution is shared across local government and with relevant public bodies. Through the Bill we have also committed to set an ambitious target on PM2.5 alongside a long-term target on air quality.

A Defra spokesperson said:

Air pollution has reduced significantly since 2010 – with emissions of nitrogen oxides at their lowest level since records began and more than 90 percent of the length of roads we assess meeting air pollution limits.

But we know there is still more to do, which is why we are delivering a £3.8 billion plan to clean up transport and tackle air pollution -  investing in green transport and working with local authorities to develop and implement local air quality plans.

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