Outdoor air pollution

London has high levels of air pollution due to traffic fumes and other sources of particulate matter. Outdoor air pollution acts as a trigger for many children and young people with asthma, contributing to emergency department attendance and intensive care admissions.

On days when pollution levels are high, people with asthma should avoid areas with heavy motor traffic, especially at rush hour. They should keep windows closed and avoid physical activity in high traffic areas. Pollution levels are usually higher in the evenings, when it’s humid or cold, and when there are high winds or atmospheric changes.

Tower Hamlets and Global Action Plan have produced this short video to help empower health professionals to talk about air pollution with their young asthma patients and families.

You can check pollution levels using airText or the DEFRA website.

Evidence of the impact of air pollution on health and ways to address it

Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants: COMEAP advises on all matters concerning the health effects of air pollutants. This page contains useful facts and figures.

Pollution evidence review: Public Health England (now the UK Health Security Agency, UKHSA) published a review of evidence on how to improve air quality in the UK in March 2019. It includes advice for local and national government on actions to improve outdoor air quality and health.

This report describes the Impact of the initial Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion on air pollution; information on the impact of lower speeds on air pollution can be found here.

CHILL (Children’s Health in London and Luton): CHILL is a cohort study funded by the NIHR Public Health Research Programme. It will determine whether reducing air pollution from traffic improves lung growth and respiratory health in primary school children.