UK children face serious health problems from air pollution


The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 70% of towns and cities in the UK have unsafe levels of fine particulate matter. This refers to tiny particles of pollution in the air that have a diameter less than 2.5 μm, smaller than the width of a human hair.

These tiny particles are the most dangerous for our health as they’re able to penetrate deep into our lungs, and potentially even into our bloodstream and our brains. For babies and young children, these health effects are even more acute. Exposure to toxic particulates during these critical early stages of development can leave a child with stunted lungs, with respiratory conditions like asthma and reduced brain development.

Air pollution is an invisible but dangerous threat to children’s health. Toxic emissions can damage children’s growth and leave them with lasting health problems. This not only violates a child’s right to health, but also their future. It could impact their right to education, their right to play and ultimately, their right to life.

At least 1 in 3 babies are growing up in areas of the UK with unsafe levels of particulate matter, the most dangerous pollutant for our health.

An investigation by consumer organisation Which? discovered in tests that some modern traditionally fuelled cars are emitting 25 times the legal levels of harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. The tests were conducted on 61 new diesel vehicles and found that 80% of them exceeded the limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx). The shocking fact is that all of the cars tested complied with the latest Euro 6 emissions standards, which manufacturers claim makes these latest vehicles the cleanest in history.

We at VZERO understand and take seriously the benefits of going electric and you only need to look at Norway to see how the substantial uptake in electric vehicles has dramatically reduced air pollution in cities. Norway is a world leader in the use of electric vehicles and last month 60% of new cars sold in the country were electric. The result is that air qualities are significantly improved. Bergen now has better air quality than at any time since 2003 which is an incredible achievement considering growth and increase in vehicles since that period. Oslo is also seeing incredible benefits from electric vehicle adoption and has recently been awarded the 2019 European Green Capital award winner, Scientists at the Norwegian Institute of Air Research estimate that the nitrogen oxide emissions from traffic will be reduced by 60% from 2013 to 2020. A serious badge of honour for electric and it is about time the UK caught up with countries like Norway. 


All figures and facts courtesy of

UK premature deaths every year attributed to air pollution - Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants
Schools, nurseries, educational centres and school clubs within 150m of roads with illegal levels of nitrous oxide
£20 billion - the true cost of air pollution on the UK economy every year says a report from the Royal College of Physicians
11 Million - number of cars worldwide designed to cheat air pollution tests according to a report from The Washington Post
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