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Air Pollution: Further Education and Schools

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 185485, tabled on 21 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made for the implications of his policies of the research from Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation on the number of schools and colleges located in areas with fine particulate matter over levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

Answered on

29 April 2021

Our thoughts continue to be with Ella’s family and friends. We will carefully consider the recommendations in the Prevention of Future Deaths report and respond in due course.

We know that air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk to human health, and although air pollution has reduced significantly over the last decade, there is more to do. The World Health Organization has praised our Clean Air Strategy as "an example for the rest of the world to follow". We know there is a strong case for taking ambitious action on PM2.5 as it is the pollutant that has the most significant impact on health. That is why we are introducing a duty to set a PM2.5 target – alongside at least one additional long-term air quality target - in the Environment Bill. We have always been clear that we will consider the World Health Organization’s guidelines for PM2.5 at part of this process.

Defra provides a wide range of air quality data and air quality information on the online UK Air Information Resource, known as UK-AIR, including a five-day forecast from the Met Office on predicted air pollution levels, allowing members of the public, particularly those who are most likely to be affected by such pollution, to take action. UK-AIR also provides the most up-to-date information on measured pollution levels via the national network of air pollution monitors and provides Public Health England advice on practical actions and steps people can take to minimise the impact of these events. However, it is clear that there is a lack of awareness about the availability of this information and we need to consider how to address this.

Evidence submitted to the Coroner to assist his inquiry cannot be disclosed without his permission. We will work with the Coroner to consider what evidence can be published with the Government’s response to the Prevention of Future Deaths Report.

We welcome Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation’s (BLF) report and senior officers recently met with Asthma UK and the BLF to discuss its findings and wider air quality issues.