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Air quality pushed up public health agenda

Stuart Spear08/03/2017 - 16:55

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Wellbeing board included in air quality in the City
Wellbeing board included in air quality in the City

An air quality toolkit is being targeted at Directors of Public health in a bid to get local authority air quality interventions higher up the public health agenda.

Published jointly by DEFRA, Public Health England and the Local Government Association the new document, Air Quality, A Briefing forDirectors of Public Health, aims to brief directors of public health on the sorts of public health responses they should be considering to alleviate the health impacts of poor air quality.

The report acts as a briefing document for public health specialists and elected members first outlining health impacts, sources of air pollution and the sorts of interventions being applied by local authorities. The report covers messaging the public on short term air pollution episodes and the basic principles that should be applied when communicating about the long-term impacts of air pollution.

These include clearly explain what air pollution is, how people can protect themselves, health impacts, linking risk to specific spaces ad how people can help improve air quality.

The report also contains a myth busting section highlighting common misconception such as air quality being poor in cities but bad in the countryside, air pollution primarily coming from vehicles and air quality improvement requiring expensive changes to modern lifestyle.  

A number of case studies are used in the report to illustrate how councils are impacting air quality and so public health. In one illustration EHOs from the City of London Corporation   

Commissioned a scientific review on how air pollution impacts public health in the City in a bid to engage their Health and Wellbeing Board.

As a result air pollution was included in in their Joint Strategic Needs Assessment so that it became a consideration when planning transport, planning new development and improving the urban realm to minimise exposure to pollution.

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