World Asthma Day 2022 – the effect of air pollution on asthma and how LEZs can make a difference

Heading Image

On World Asthma Day 2022, it is important to look at the role that air pollution has on public health, in particular the detrimental effect it has on people’s lung health.

The charity Asthma + Lung UK describes air pollution as the biggest environmental threat to public health.

In Scotland, around 368,000 people are currently receiving treatment for asthma - 296,000 adults, 71,000 children.

Poor air quality has a detrimental effect on people with underlying health conditions, particularly those with asthma, heart disease or lung conditions such as COPD. Pollution can quickly irritate your airways and trigger asthma symptoms. Some pollution particles are small enough to get right into your lungs.

Some people are more at risk of being affected by pollution even on days when pollution is at low or moderate levels including:

  • Children and young adults who may have faster breathing rates and their lungs are still developing.
  • Older people with asthma, and/or other long-term conditions such as COPD or heart disease.
  • People with hay fever - pollen combined with pollution can mean you feel the effects of your allergy more.

Research shows that high levels of air pollution can cause asthma in both children and adults. Children living in areas with high pollution such as in our cities are more at risk.

To improve public health it is vital that we all do whatever we can to help reduce air pollution in Scotland. Improving air quality will enhance everyone’s lives, particularly those who suffer from asthma or other underlying health conditions.

Scotland’s Low Emission Zones (LEZs), which are set to be introduced this month in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, will help improve air quality in these cities. LEZs stop high-polluting vehicles from entering the zone. When the enforcement of LEZs starts, anyone with a non-compliant vehicle entering the zone will face a penalty charge. This will improve air quality and reduce pollution levels in these areas.

LEZs play a critical role in encouraging people to make greater use of public transport and active travel as an alternative to using a car and will help contribute towards the goal of reducing air pollution and improving public health.

To find out more and keep up to date with all the latest information on Scotland’s Low Emission Zones, register here.