09:55 GMT19 January 2021
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    Regular exposure to even low levels of air pollution may cause changes to the heart similar to those in the early stages of heart failure, according to experts.

    A study of 4,000 people in the UK found those who lived by loud, busy roads had larger hearts on average than those living in less polluted areas. This was despite the fact people in the study were exposed to pollution levels below the UK guidelines.
    Researchers called on the government to reduce air pollution more quickly. Sputnik spoke to John Whitelegg, Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University about what action needs to be taken.

    Sputnik: What do you make of the findings?

    John Whitelegg: Well my first reaction was, this is about the 40th research finding that indicates there’s a serious problem for a whole range of human health issues, we get two or three of these a year and we’ve know this since the 1960’s. First of all, it helps to have this extra scientific evidence, the link between primarily traffic and heart disease.

    My amazement is we seem to be locked into finding out again and we’re in the third decade of finding this out two or three times a year and we never do anything about it.

    Sputnik: How damaging could the changes to people’s hearts be, does this increase risks?

    John Whitelegg: Not only do we not take action, the UK government were taken to court, they lose court cases, the judges tell us to sort it out and do better. We then produce another rubbish strategy, which won’t improve air quality, so it goes on.

    Government and local councils have a legal duty to improve air quality, they will not take any action because the only way you improve air quality, is to reduce the amount of traffic, government and all councils are terrified of being seen to be anti-motorists.

    Sputnik: With no action plan in place, how interesting is it that the government agreed to Heathrow?

    John Whitelegg: If we wanted to go deeper into the serious unethical public health damaging behaviour of government. We know we have a duty to improve air quality, yet the government have improved the third runway at Heathrow.

    We know that the hundred and thousands of extra vehicles that are going to drive to Heathrow airport will cause levels of pollution way above the levels we’re supposed to keep too. So the government doesn’t improve things, it makes them worse.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    public health, air quality, runaway, vehicles, air pollution, Heathrow Airport, John Whitelegg, United Kingdom
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