Smart Transport

Calls for tougher UK air quality limits as WHO restrictions slashed

Smoking exhaust

Industry body wants to see the UK Government reduce legal limits for pollutants, following the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) new limits.

WHO announced that it was cutting its air quality guideline limit for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by 50% (from 10µg/m3 to 5µg/m3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by 75% (40µg/m3 to 10µg/m3) last week, after completing a review of the guideline air quality levels it set in 2006.

Following the new guidelines, the British Safety Council has called on the Government to set "robust" legal limits in the UK "without delay", using these stricter WHO limits as a minimum.

It said that while toxic air is potentially harmful to everyone, the risk of exposure is greater for outdoor workers for whom the street is their workplace.

It wants ambient air pollution to be "fully recognised as the occupational health issue it is". 

Mike Robinson, chief executive of the British Safety Council, said: “As health effects have been found even at the lowest levels of PM2.5 that have been measured, and well below the previous WHO Guidelines of 10 µg/m3, we welcome these stricter WHO limits, which if implemented in UK law should help protect outdoor workers from toxic air.

“As the main source of pollution in our cities and built-up areas is road traffic, the Government must now go further to reduce emissions from petrol- and diesel-powered engines. So, the Prime Minister should adopt a policy of allowing electric only vehicles in our cities from 2030.”

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