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MP signs letter in concerted push for better air quality

Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to help improve air quality and reduce the risk of another peak in Covid-19.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter is among 90 parliamentarians to have signed a letter asking the country’s PM to support proposals made by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on air pollution.

It comes after research from Queen Mary University London showed short-term air pollution makes people more likely to catch Covid-19, with further evidence suggesting the virus can be transported by pollution particles.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dan Poulter wants to see proposals adopted to cut air pollution.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dan Poulter wants to see proposals adopted to cut air pollution.

Dr Poulter, a practising NHS psychiatrist and former health minister, said: “Air quality in my constituency has improved during lockdown, but, 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.

“No one wants to see a second peak and another drawn-out lockdown, so we must have a strategy of less travel, more frequent and safe public transport alongside greener, less-polluting vehicles and other additional measures if we are to cut pollution.

“The new normal should allow people to spend more time walking, cycling, working from home wherever possible and enjoying the outdoors with less pollution.”

The APPG’s strategy includes more frequent and cleaner public transport, a clampdown on wood and coal burning, better indoor air quality and the adoption of World Health Organisation air quality targets.

Geraint Davies, chairman of the APPG on air pollution, said “We know that air pollution kills, accounting 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 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 infection into its plans for easing the lockdown and to take forward the air quality strategy to reduce a second peak risk.”

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