Air pollution and air quality as lockdown is eased
In only the first week of the first lockdown last March, air pollution levels dropped by an astonishing 40%, according to UK research by Earth Sense.
It shows how quickly reductions in CO2 emissions can make a difference. With 40,000 deaths every year attributed to pollution from vehicles and industry, it is clear that levels of air pollution and air quality matter.Now there are an approximate 1m people suffering from long COVID, meaning that the numbers of people vulnerable to illness and death from air pollution is increasing.
Worldwide, the WHO estimates that pollution causes 7.1m deaths per year.
We also know that exposure to air pollution has led to an increased risk of death from COVID (of up to 11%).
We are now trying to get back to “normal”, so industries affected by restrictions are fully resuming production, heavy goods vehicles are back on the road in greater numbers, and parents have resumed the daily school run. While people are still visiting supermarkets less often, they are buying more on each visit, and choosing the car rather than the bus to return home.
With more people continuing to work from home and curbs on leisure travel, pollution levels are still at around 75% of pre pandemic levels.
In December, a Coroner’s Court decided that air pollution was a cause of the death of Ella Kissi-Debrah and for the first time this was recorded on a death certificate. Air pollution in her home area had consistently exceeded legal limits. The Court was told that the Local Authority had not regarded tackling air pollution as a priority.
Yesterday (Wednesday) the Cproner called for legally enforcable pollution limits to be reduced in line with WHO guidelines.
We’ve previously reported on Local Authority attempts to reduce congestion and improve the environment in city centres, largely as a result of the pandemic and the likelihood of less demand for shop spaces, so some progress is to be hoped for in city centres.
It is clear that air pollution and air quality where you live is important to your health and the health of your family and there is evidence of people wanting to move to areas where the environment is healthier. This is something that solicitors and estate agents are starting to take note of.
The publication for conveyancing solicitors, Today’s Conveyancer, believes that air quality is now alongside flood risk and land contamination as environmental factors that home buyers should consider.
Estate Agents are unlikely to start routinely giving information about air pollution levels but, given the fact that there are more monitoring stations than there were, it is likely that Solicitors may carry out routine checks during searches in the future.
Turning shopping centres into parkland, February 2021
Cities are changing, May 2020
A new normal? April 2020
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