PCRS Supports year round action for healthy planet this Earth Day
“As the world returns to normal, we can’t go back to busines as usual” reads the headline on the Earth Day website. And as world leaders, grassroot activists, citizen scientists, school children and musicians, artists and influencers come together to take part in three days of climate action, PCRS is also proud to be doing our bit to help promote year round action for a healthy planet and healthier lives.
Air pollution and climate change is not only a significant environmental issue, it is also a significant public health issue, which is causing an upsurge in illness and death from respiratory disease.
Public Health England estimates that between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths in the UK are thought to be attributable to human-made air pollution. And just yesterday (21st April 2021) a coroner called for a change in the law after it was concluded that air pollution contributed to the death of nine year old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who suffered from severe asthma. In a poignant and heart-breaking statement, her mother said “because of a lack of information, I did not take steps to reduce Ella’s exposure to air pollution that might have saved her life. I will always live with this regret. But it is not too late for other children”. Mrs Adoo-Kissi-Debrah is calling for the Government to make more information available to the public.
At PCRS we support the calls for more information to be made available to the public and for increased awareness of the potential risks of air pollution on health, especially on those who suffer from lung conditions. We encourage all HCPs who care for patients with respiratory conditions to familiarise themselves with the risks to patients of air pollution and to help patients to understand what measures they can take to reduce their exposure and risk (see BLF advice for patients for example).
In 2020 we released a White Paper on Greener Respiratory Health Care which recognises the urgency of taking action to address climate change and air pollution, whilst also acknowledging the damaging impact that treating lung conditions can also have on the environment. It also highlighted that there are practical measures that can be taken to reduce the environmental impact of respiratory healthcare including ensuring early and accurate diagnosis, encouraging and educating parents to support self management, and introducing better processes for the recycling and safe disposal of inhalers. These measures will not only have a positive impact on the environment but will deliver better care to our patients.
We are in the process of building a Greener Respiratory Pathway that will provide clinicians with more detailed guidance on the provision of health care that is less damaging to the planet throughout the patient journey. Watch this space to find out more in coming weeks.