Suffolk MP, Dr Dan Poulter is calling on the Prime Minister to take forward proposals to improve air quality and to reduce the risk of coronavirus in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.
The letter, signed by 90 parliamentarians, supports proposals made by the All-Party Group on Air Pollution, based on evidence from scientists, businesses and local authorities.
Research from Harvard suggests that ongoing exposure to air pollution increases the COVID-19 death toll by 8% for an extra unit (1 micro-gramme per cubic metre) of smaller particulates PM2.5. Meanwhile, research from Queen Mary University London shows that short term air pollution makes people more likely to catch the virus and evidence also suggests the virus can be transported on pollution through the air.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP, Dr Dan Poulter, who backed the proposals, said “Air quality in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich has improved during lockdown and if we simply get back in our cars, there will be a return of pollution levels which increases the risks of catching and becoming seriously ill or dying from coronavirus.”
“None of us wants to have a second peak and another drawn out lockdown, so we must have a strategy of less travel, with more frequent safe public transport alongside greener, less-polluting vehicles alongside other measures to cut pollution."
“The new normal should also allow people can to spend more time walking, cycling, working from home where-ever possible and enjoying the outdoors with less pollution.”
Geraint Davies, the Chair of the APPG on Air Pollution, said “We know that air pollution kills accounts for 64,000 early deaths each year and its damage to hearts and lungs make people more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses like coronavirus. It’s great that Dr Dan Poulter is pressing for better air quality, in particular as we now know that short-term exposure to pollution makes people more vulnerable to COVID-19.
“The government needs to build the added threat of pollution to coronavirus infection into its plans for easing the lockdown and to take forward the air quality strategy to reduce the risks of a second peak.”
The APPG’s strategy includes proposals that allow technology to reduce travel, more frequent public transport, cleaner private transport, more pedestrian space and cycling, a clamp-down on wood and coal burning, improvements in indoor air quality, less polluting machinery, a reduction in ammonia fertilisers and the adoption of World Health Organisation air quality targets.