London suffers from high levels of air pollution traffic in a similar way to most UK cities, but the sheer size of the city, along with a dense road network and high buildings, means that central London tends to be one of the most polluted places in the UK. Air pollution acts as a trigger for many children and young people with asthma, contributing to intensive care admissions, and possibly some asthma deaths.
On days when pollution levels are high, you should avoid areas with lots of motor traffic, especially at rush hour. Pollution levels are usually higher in the evenings, when it’s humid, still sunny or on cold days and if there are high winds or atmospheric changes. People with asthma should stick to the back streets, keep windows closed and avoid physical activity close to main roads. Pollution levels can be checked on https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/forecasting
Resources on air pollution as an asthma trigger
- Air Pollution Toolkit: this toolkit provides simple suggestions for how NHS organisations can reduce their contribution to air pollution. The innovations range from those that are quick, easy and free to implement to those that may require more work to implement or some additional funding.
- Clean Air Hospital Framework: use the Clean Air Hospital Framework to develop your clean air action plan to improve air quality. Self-assess your progress and set ambitions on tackling air pollution in several key areas.
- Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants: the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) advises on all matters concerning the health effects of air pollutants.
- CHILL (Children’s Health in London and Luton):CHILL is a cohort study funded by the NIHR Public Health Research Programme. It will determine whether reducing air pollution from traffic improves lung growth and respiratory health in primary school children.
- Pollution evidence review: Public Health England published a review of evidence on how to improve air quality in the UK. This review informs local and national government on actions to improve outdoor air quality and health.
- Investigative journalist Penny Hosie describes the physical effects and potential impact of poor air quality in this in-depth report.
- New guidelines from NICE are now available on indoor air pollution
- Inside Story Report: a report from RCPCH highlights the health effects of indoor air quality on children and young people.
- Air pollution and you: Tower Hamlets and Global Action Plan have produced this short video to empower health professionals to talk about air pollution with their asthma patients and their families. They have also produced resource packs for GP practices, health professionals and schools.
- Asthma and air quality resources produced by North Central London ICS – including a poster, leaflet and a video in English and community language translations.
- This video outlines potential indoor triggers for asthma, with useful information to help families address them.
- London’s CYP asthma pharmacy group, a subgroup of the London Asthma Leadership and Implementation Group, have developed two leaflets on inhalers and the green agenda. These detail what young asthma patients and their families can do to protect the environment and how professionals can inform themselves and advise their patients in relation to the environmental impact of inhalers:
- Patient leaflet for printing
- Patient leaflet for digital use
- Top tips for professionals in greener respiratory prescribing in A3 and A4 format.
- The NHS website details useful advice about prevention when managing allergies: www.nhs.uk/conditions/allergies/prevention
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