Air Pollution Targets Will Fail Another Generation of Children, Experts Suggest

Last year, UK policymakers came out with their new air pollution targets, which were two months late according to the government’s mandated deadline of October 31. Critics, such as an environmental law charity are worried, though, that the 2040 target is not enough to protect the public, especially the children.

According to a representative from the charity, the 2040 target date for the country’s goal of reducing air pollution is too far away – 17 years (from 2023), to be exact. It’s not ideal and it means a new generation of children will be breathing considerable amounts of toxic air. Schools around the city will be engulfed by toxic air. Children will have to endure 18 years of dirty air and its life-changing impacts.

Early exposure to air pollution will compromise their health all the way to adulthood.

The reduced limit of fine particulate matter or PM2.5 is 10µg/m3, lower than the present acceptable concentration but still significantly higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended limits.

PM2.5 is dangerous because it can easily get into your lungs and move through the bloodstream. This, in turn, can cause breathing problems and cardiovascular-related illnesses.

Even if the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is intent on continuing actions against air pollution, without the support of the central government and with weak targets, plenty of work still needs to be done.

Critics and campaigners are hoping the Ministers will consider changing the deadline to an earlier one. The UK’s 2040 set date is 10 years late compared to the European Union’s 2030 deadline, and this is exactly what the Office for Environmental Protection is asking the government to consider.

An analysis that the government carried out indicates that almost all areas in the UK are capable of complying with the required limit by the year 2030. Only the areas considered hotspots – the ones with high levels of air pollution – may take longer than the 2030 target deadline.

Defra, the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said the government is 100% committed to fulfilling its goals to reduce toxic air on a national level. However, it is important to set goals that can be easily achieved throughout the country. While it is possible to bring down PM2.5 levels to below 10µg/m3 in almost all parts of the UK by 2030, achieving the goal everywhere will be possible only by 2040.

What makes emissions dangerous?

PM2.5, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) are all emissions from road transport, specifically diesel vehicles.

Fine particulate matter or PM2.5 turns the air around you hazy, especially when its levels are high. These tiny particles can also affect your visibility, but their biggest impact is when they penetrate the lungs and reduce their function.

Carbon dioxide or CO2 emissions do not directly affect your health but they significantly contribute to climate change. Diesel vehicles, however, emit lower levels of CO2 compared to petrol cars and vans.

NOx emissions have nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide as their main components. Nitrogen oxide forms smog and acid rain, and it is also responsible for producing ground-level ozone, a pollutant that can severely impact vegetation.

Nitrogen oxide emissions first caught the attention of the public in 2015, after US authorities caught the Volkswagen Group using defeat devices in their VW and Audi diesel vehicles to manipulate emissions levels during emissions testing. The vehicles were sold to American consumers.

Defeat devices can sense when a vehicle is brought to the lab for regulatory testing and artificially bring down emissions levels to within the WHO’s legal limits. This makes the vehicle appear clean, fuel-efficient, environmentally safe, and emissions-compliant.

In other words, the vehicle is ready for marketing, selling, and driving. However, this is only true during testing conditions. Once the vehicle is in real-world road conditions, the vehicle emits excessive levels of NOx emissions. This means the VW Group lied to their customers and hid the vehicles’ true emissions.

VW had to recall thousands of affected vehicles. They’ve spent billions on payoffs as well. This incident became known as the Dieselgate scandal and grew to global proportions in no time. Other carmakers became involved in the fiasco, including Vauxhall, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW. Authorities have an extensive list of errant manufacturers.

The carmakers violated emissions regulations and authorities believe they are responsible for exposing drivers to NOx emissions. Nitrogen oxide emissions can have life-threatening health impacts. The most common ones are breathing difficulties, asthma, nausea and vomiting, and respiratory illnesses such as emphysema and bronchitis.

Serious health impacts that arise from constant exposure to NOx emissions include chronic reduction of lung function, laryngospasm and asphyxiation, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.

You – and other affected car owners – are urged to bring a diesel claim against your carmaker. If you are successful, you can receive compensation for all the inconvenience you’ve been through because of the defeat device.

When can I begin working on my diesel claim?

The diesel emissions claim can take time but working with emissions experts can help. However, you need to first verify your eligibility to file a diesel claim against your carmaker. It’s simple; just visit as they have all the information you need. This will guarantee that you are following the right process in your claim.