Cut pollution to reduce covid-19 threat says Suffolk MP Dan Poulter

Dr Dan Poulter wore a mask while voting in the House of Commons. Picture: DR DAN POULTER

Dr Dan Poulter wore a mask while voting in the House of Commons. Picture: DR DAN POULTER - Credit: Archant

Higher levels of air pollution increases the threat of catching and becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 – and now a Suffolk MP has added his voice to calls for the government to take more steps to reduce the risk by making air cleaner.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter is one of 90 MPs from all parties to sign a letter calling on the Prime Minister to take steps to improve air quality in a bid to ensure the best possible chance of beating Covid-19.

The letter says a study by scientists at Harvard University in the US found that serious exposure to air pollution heightens the risk of death among those who contract the disease. And a separate study by Queen Mary University in London showed that pollution increased the risk of people catching the virus because it can be transported on pollution particles.

The letter urges the government to adopt 12 proposals drawn up by the All Party Group on Air Pollution after consultations with scientists and local authority leaders.

The proposals include encouraging more home working, reducing the amount of motor traffic on roads, encouraging the switch from internal combustion to electric engines in vehicles, and speeding up bans on domestic coal and wet wood burning.

It also wants to encourage more people to walk or cycle, make it the norm for people to wear face coverings in shops and where people gather as well as on public transport. And it says homes should be checked for pollution from everyday chemicals used in cleaning products, paint, or make up.

MORE: Suffolk approves plans for new cycle routes

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Dr Poulter said: “Air quality in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich has improved during lockdown and if we simply get back in our cars, there will be a return of pollution levels which increases the risks of catching and becoming seriously ill or dying from coronavirus.

“None of us wants to have a second peak and another drawn out lockdown, so we must have a strategy of less travel, with more frequent safe public transport alongside greener, less-polluting vehicles alongside other measures to cut pollution.

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“The new normal should also allow people can to spend more time walking, cycling, working from home whereever possible and enjoying the outdoors with less pollution.”

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