Publication of UK Guidelines on air pollution – NICE

nice-logoThe draft National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline on Air pollution: outdoor air quality and health for the UK has been published for consultation. The deadline for responses to the consultation is 25 January 2017. Even though it is aimed at the UK, this could be useful to set standards for other countries in tackling air pollution. Even though NICE guidance is officially for England, there are NICE global care experts that work with low and middle income countries to develop their health systems.

Air pollution is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere. Household combustion devices, motor vehicles, industrial facilities and forest fires are common sources of air pollution.air-pollutionPollutants of major public health concern include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Outdoor and indoor air pollution cause respiratory and other diseases, which can be fatal (WHO).

indoor-air-pollution

Together, outdoor and indoor air pollution are directly linked to pneumonia and other respiratory diseases that account for almost one in 10 under-five deaths, making air pollution one of the leading dangers to children’s health. Read more here.

Key regional trends on air pollution:

  • Global urban air pollution levels increased by 8%, despite improvements in some regions.
  • In general, urban air pollution levels were lowest in high-income countries, with lower levels most prevalent in Europe, the Americas, and the Western Pacific Region.
  • The highest urban air pollution levels were experienced in low-and middle-income countries in WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia Regions, with annual mean levels often exceeding 5-10 times WHO limits, followed by low-income cities in the Western Pacific Region.
  • In the Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia Regions and low-income countries in the Western Pacific Region, levels of urban air pollution has increased by more than 5% in more than two-thirds of the cities.
  • In the African Region urban air pollution data remains very sparse, however available data revealed particulate matter (PM) levels above the median. The database now contains PM measurements for more than twice as many cities than previous versions. (WHO 2016)

The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) has welcomed the draft guidelines and support for implementing interventions to reduce the menace of poor air quality and its associated burden of avoidable and inequitable mortality and morbidity.