A charity survey of 14,000 people with lung disease found that one in six had noticed an improvement in their health. The figure for children was higher, with one in five parents reporting that their child’s condition had improved. People with asthma in particular have reported benefits, with one in four reporting relief.
There is a well-established link between air pollution and lung disease. Of the 12 million people in the UK living with conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, around 8 million have been diagnosed with asthma, of which 5.4 million are receiving treatment.
The number of visits to hospital emergency departments for asthma in England also halved during the lockout, according to data from Public Health England. But it is not known to what extent this decrease is due to a reduction in symptoms or the reluctance of people to go to the hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Zak Bond of the British Lung Foundation said: “Now, more than ever before, we have all realized the importance of taking care of our lungs, and the government has a duty to ensure that the country is back from Covid -19, we can continue to reduce air pollution levels and continue to lower them. “
There is mounting evidence worldwide that links the increase in Covid-19 infections and deaths to exposure to air pollution. A multi-stakeholder group of deputies said on Friday that air pollution should be kept low to avoid a second spike in infections.
Bond called for the rapid introduction of clean air zones in cities, where charges discourage the use of the most polluting vehicles. But these have been delayed in cities like Manchester, with authorities citing the need to focus on responding to coronaviruses.
Bond said more support needed for public transportation, biking and walking, and tougher air quality laws: “We want to see the government commit to meeting the organization’s guidelines World Health Organization for fine particles by 2030 at the latest. “
Air pollution causes tens of thousands of premature deaths in the UK each year. More than a third of local authorities in England have levels of particulate matter pollution above the WHO limit. Nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced largely by diesel vehicles, is found at illegal levels in 80% of urban areas.
Stephen Holgate, clinical professor of immunopharmacology at the Medical Research Council at the University of Southampton, said: “As one of the biggest health problems of our time, air pollution has the potential to harm to everybody. It is so important that we take this opportunity to recognize the experiences of people with lung disease and apply what we have learned from the impact of containment to build a future where we focus on clean air. “
The lockout dropped traffic to 1955 levels, while fine particulate matter and NO2 pollution was cut in half in cities. The British Lung Foundation survey found that more than 50% of people with lung disease said they had noticed a decrease in air pollution since the start of isolation.
An asthmatic, Paul, 14, from Liverpool, often had trouble breathing, but had to use his rescue inhaler much less during the lockout. “You can really feel the difference now,” he said. “I go out and I am struck by a fresh air which is like a utopia compared to before. “
Dr. Alison Cook, Chair of the Taskforce for Lung Health, a coalition of 30 organizations, said: “Children deserve to breathe cleaner air and grow up in a country where their health is not at risk by going to school. ‘outside.”