Skip to main content  

yellow heart

Reducing exposure

You can reduce your exposure to poor air quality by downloading the CityAir app to find low pollution routes. You can also use the app to receive alerts when pollution is predicted to be higher.

Air pollution banding and ​health implications

Air pollution can have both short term and long term impacts on health. Defra's Daily Air Quality Index categorises the amount of pollution in the air on any given day as: low, moderate, high and very high. The London Air Quality Network website, displays the current pollution band for air quality stations within the City of London.​

Short term impacts

Not everyone is affected by short term changes in air pollution. People with lung diseases, asthma, and heart disease may find that their symptoms become worse on days with higher air pollution. Children are more likely to be affected due to relatively higher breathing and metabolic rates, as well as a developing lung and immune system. The elderly are also more vulnerable.

Long term impacts

The long term health effects of air pollution are believed to be more significant than the short term effects. These effects happen at lower pollution levels than the short term effects, and are often not noticed by people at the time the damage is being done.

In 2008, the UK's Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) reported that the burden of human-made particulate matter on the human population was approximately a loss of 340,000 years of life in 2008 across the United Kingdom, and that this loss of life is equivalent to 29,000 deaths. The burden can also be represented as a loss of life expectancy from birth of approximately six months for everyone in the United Kingdom. More recent studies have highlighted a possible link between poor air quality and low birth weight in infants.​​​

03 May 2012
Last Modified:
02 September 2019