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Greener NHS website. Take action. 2021. http://tinyurl.com/jxhypwke (accessed 16 August 2021)

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Why air pollution is an important issue for all nurses

09 September 2021
6 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 16
Figure 1. How air pollution affects people through life
Figure 1. How air pollution affects people through life

Most people will be aware that, unfortunately, COVID-19 has led to more than 4 million deaths across the world. However, few are aware that more than 7 million premature deaths are caused by air pollution every single year (World Health Organization (WHO), 2021). Our grandparents may remember the deadly pea-souper smogs of the 1950s. And anyone who grew up in south or south east Asia will be familiar with the euphemistically named ‘haze’ events, where smoke from agricultural or forest burning blots out the sun and stings eyes and throats for days on end. However, in the UK, air pollution is largely invisible, but that does not mean that it does not affect our health.

Levels of air pollution can vary from day to day and throughout the year, depending on the weather and activities. Episodes of high air pollution can occur during winter months when weather conditions can mean that pollutants are trapped close to their sources, preventing them from being dispersed. In the summer, hot and sunny days can cause high levels of ozone. These episodes can cause an increase in hospital admissions for cardiovascular and respiratory effects.

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