Launching the report by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants, Quantification of the Effects of Air Pollution on Health in the United Kingdom, Frank Dobson, secretary of state for health, said:
'This report clearly confirms that air pollution damages health. While there is still much that we need to find out about the precise effects air pollution has on health, it is clear that it is doing harm to people who are already frail and sick.
'This government takes the issue of air pollution very seriously, and this report shows it is right to do so. The department of environment, transport and the regions is already taking measures to improve air quality in this country. And only last week, the deputy prime minister John Prescott highlighted the importance we shall be attaching to this issue during the UK Presidency of the European Union.
'The department of health will continue to play its part in providing the expert scientific and medical advice which underpins the government's National Air Quality Strategy.'
The minister for the environment, Michael Meacher said:
'This report justifies the importance this government attaches to measures for reducing air pollution. That is why I am determined to press ahead as quickly as possible with the implementation of the National Air Quality Strategy. And in Europe we are already close to
agreeing significantly tighter standards for vehicle emissions and for fuel quality. We will also take forward other measures on industrial emissions.
'Regulations have now been made to start the process of Local Air Quality Management. Local authorities must now review and assess local air quality and put in place action plans in pursuit of the air quality objectives laid in the regulations.
'In addition, we have also recently announced changes in the way that we provide information to the public on pollution levels. It is vital that people, in particular those who suffer from respiratory disorders such as asthma, should receive timely information that allows them to manage their conditions.'
1. Copies of the report, Quantification of the Effects of Air Pollution on Health in the United Kingdom, are available from The Stationery Office, ISBN 0-11-322102-9, price£16.50.
2. A new public information system on air pollution was launched on 19 November and provides hourly information and daily forecasts on levels of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and particles (as PM10). This can be found on:
CEEFAX (pages 410 - 417)
TELETEXT (page 106)
Freephone (0800 556677)