England’s Chief Medical Officer said many pollutants are risk factors for diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and asthma.
Pollution must be seen as a human health hazard as well as an environmental issue, according to a report which highlights the NHS as being a “significant polluter”.
Professor Dame Sally Davies said the NHS is the biggest user of single-use plastic bags in England and is estimated to be responsible for 5% of all road traffic at any one time.
As one of the world’s largest employers with more than a million staff, the NHS must lead the way in reducing the “daily cocktail” of pollution that the public is exposed to, England’s Chief Medical Officer said.
Her latest annual report examines the impact of air, light and noise on health – warning that such pollutants are driving chronic sickness.
People in deprived areas are more exposed to pollution – notably air pollution – while those with existing underlying medical conditions, the young and the old, face a greater health impact from pollution exposure, her report warns.