'The ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) across London will help reduce the 36,000 deaths caused in the UK every year by outdoor pollution, the British Heart Foundation said as it welcomed the new vehicle charging zone that will launch on Monday.
According to the leading heart charity, a significant proportion of air pollution-related deaths are in the capital, where pollution levels are often at their highest.
Most of these are from heart attacks or stroke, it said.
“The Ulez will help reduce the levels of dangerous pollutants in the air Londoners breathe and crucially, it will help to protect the health of the most vulnerable people across the capital,” said the charity’s chief executive, Simon Gillespie.
“Air pollution is a major threat to the UK’s health, and contributes to thousands of heart attacks and strokes every year. BHF-funded research has shown that tiny particles emitted from diesel vehicles can enter our bloodstream and silently damage our heart and circulatory systems.
“We now need to see other cities across the UK following suit, and more ambitious plans put in place nationally and locally to ensure that everyone gets the right to breathe air that won’t harm them. We need to see this action as soon as possible, beginning with the adoption of World Health Organisation (WHO) air pollution limits into UK law.”
Other medical professionals also support the enforcing of the new zone which will be launched by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, on Monday.
Prof Jonathan Grigg of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said it was important in order to protect children’s health.
“Air pollution can have major health implications on the developing child, with early exposure proven to increase the risk of asthma and lung infections and these can be life threatening,” he said.
“Approximately 50% of air pollution comes from road transport and 40% comes from diesel, so the introduction of London’s ultra-low emissions zone on 8 April is extremely welcome. Coupled with this move, we need to see employers and schools encouraging and facilitating better use of public transport and active travel options like walking and cycling. London has some active travel networks which if utilised, not only reduce air pollution but also improve family fitness, which has many positive health benefits.”'
Read more: Heart charity urges other cities to follow London's ultra-low emission zone
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