July 19, 2012

Something in the Air: The forgotten crisis of Britain’s poor air quality

Air pollution is Britain’s invisible environmental problem. It is comparable to obesity and alcohol and second only to smoking as a public health problem, but gets far less attention. Yet some government policies, such as encouraging diesel vehicles in cities, are making the problem even worse.

It also hits the poorest hardest. Children living in the worst places in London for air quality are nearly 50% more likely to be eligible for free school meals than the London average. Residents of the most polluted areas are also around 25% more likely to be on income support than the London average. Yet poor air quality is rarely considered to be a ‘fairness’ issue.

This report makes recommendations for actions that government and civil society can take to help improve air quality and raise awareness of the dangers of air pollution.



Guy Newey

Head of Environment & Energy, 2010-2014

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