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Air_pollution_main report_WEB

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Recommendations for action and research What must be done Everyone has some responsibility for reducing air pollution. Real change will only occur when everyone accepts this responsibility, and makes a concerted effort. This includes European, national and local government, business and industry, schools and the NHS, as well as individuals in society at large. 1 Act now, think long term. As a community, we must act now, and with urgency, to protect the health, wellbeing and economic sustainability of today's communities and future generations. Government must empower local authorities and incentivise industry to plan for the long term. 2 Educate professionals and the public. The NHS and patient charities must educate health professionals, policymakers and the public about the serious harm that air pollution causes. Health professionals, in particular, have a duty to inform their patients. 3 Promote alternatives to cars fuelled by petrol and diesel. Government, employers and schools should encourage and facilitate the use of public transport and active travel options like walking and cycling. Active travel also increases physical activity, which will have major health benefits for everyone. Local transport plans, especially in deprived areas, should: • expand cycle networks • require cycle training at school • promote safe alternatives to the 'school run', based on walking, public transport and cycling instead of cars • encourage employers to support alternatives to commuting by car • promote leisure cycling • develop 'islands' of space away from traffic, for safer walking and cycling. European, national and local policies should also encourage the use of hybrid electrical and hydrogen-powered vehicles. 4 Put the onus on the polluters. Polluters must be required to take responsibility for harming our health. Political leaders at a local, national and EU level must introduce tougher regulations, including reliable emissions testing for cars. They must also enforce regulations vigorously, especially in deprived areas where pollution levels are higher and people are more vulnerable. 5 Monitor air pollution effectively. Air pollution monitoring by central and local government must track exposure to harmful pollutants in major urban areas and near schools. These results should be communicated proactively to the public, in a clear way that everyone can understand. When levels exceed EU limits or World Health Organization guidelines, local authorities must immediately publish serious incident alerts. 6 Act to protect the public health when air pollution levels are high. When these limits are exceeded, local authorities must have the power to close or divert roads to reduce the volume of traffic, especially near schools. xiv © Royal College of Physicians 2016

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