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News code: 26447
Published Date: Saturday 20 October 2018 - 14:14:02
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UK is endangering people's health by denying their right to clean air, says UN

UK is endangering people's health by denying their right to clean air, says UN
World  - The UK government is putting the health of millions of its citizens at risk by failing to tackle the country’s air pollution crisis, according the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and the environment.


David Boyd said people's right to breathe clean air was being violated in the UK and warned the crisis was responsible for up to 50,000 deaths - and devastating the lives of "many millions" more in towns and cities across the country.

Speaking to the Guardian, he said air pollution and climate change were inextricably linked and called on the UK government to take a global lead by introducing new clean air legislation to raise standards, protect its citizens and meet its climate obligations.

"The interesting thing about the UK is that the London smog of 1952 was the galvanising event that led to the world's first Clean Air Act," said Boyd. "I really feel like we have reached the point again where it is time for the UK to step up and show some leadership."

The intervention follows a slew of new scientific studies over recent months that have highlighted the long-term damage air pollution is doing to people's health, from asthma to dementia, damage to unborn babies and heart disease.

The UK government has been widely criticised by clean air campaigners and environmental groups over what they say has been its failure to tackle the air pollution crisis. It has been defeated three times in court over its plans on the issue and is now one of six countries taken to the European court of justice over their toxic air.

"The fact that they still have these weak standards and the fact that there are somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 premature deaths in the UK?" Boyd said. "That should simply not be acceptable in a wealthy, advanced society."

And he warned that the official death toll was "just the tip of the iceberg".

"If you are having tens of thousands of premature deaths," he said, "you are also talking about millions of illnesses from asthma to lung cancer that don't necessarily kill you but make lives utterly miserable."

News Code: 26447
Published Date: Saturday 20 October 2018 - 14:14:02
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