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NHS Grampian supports air pollution prevention campaign

By Kyle Ritchie

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NHS Grampian supported the UK’s biggest air pollution campaign in a bid to improve local understanding of the impact it has on health and inspire action.

Phil Mackie, consultant in public health for NHS Grampian who also leads on preventing harms to human health for Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “There are direct links between the health of our planet and the health of people.

“It’s estimated air pollution is responsible for up to 43,000 deaths per year in the UK alone and millions more worldwide. The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes poor air quality as the largest environmental threat to public health.

Phil Mackie, consultant in public health for NHS Grampian.
Phil Mackie, consultant in public health for NHS Grampian.

“While I think it’s important to accept our lives will always have an environmental impact, small steps by lots of people add up to a big difference.

“That’s why I’m right behind Clean Air Day. We can all take some personal responsibility and there’s a balance to be found.

“It’s not about never using a car, for example, but walking or cycling shorter journeys and not leaving the engine running unnecessarily.

“It’s also another great reminder of the power we all have as consumers – look for products with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and opt for fragrance free cleaning options or use water spray when you can.

“While climate change can sometimes feel like a faraway issue, it’s worth remembering air pollution can cause and worsen heart and lung diseases, lung cancer, high blood pressure and strokes.

“It’s linked to issues during pregnancy and it affects your brain, impacting mental health and contributing to memory issues and dementia. Air pollution can also cause or worsen health problems in children.

“Remember plants and trees help to clean the air too. They take carbon dioxide out of the air and help to improve urban air quality by creating a barrier between people and pollutants.

“They remove some of the particulate pollution from the air by catching this on their leaf surfaces – which is just amazing when you think about it.

“Plants and trees in urban areas alone are estimated to save the NHS at least £136 million every year by reducing hospital admissions.

“I know that’s a lot to take in and I don’t say these things lightly or to cause fear, but to raise awareness of the impact our actions have on health and to encourage everyone to do what they can when they can. Every bit helps.”

NHS Grampian is working towards becoming a net zero carbon service. The Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy was launched in December 2023 and is publicly available on its website.

Visit here to find out more about Action for Clean Air and the UK’s largest clean air campaign.

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