Written evidence submitted by the Chartered
Institute of Environmental Health |
CIEH is the Professional Body for environmental health practitioners
(EHPs). Many EHPs in local government perform a range of functions
concerned with the monitoring and control of air quality. EHPs
are also in private sector positions with an involvement in air
quality, for example in respect of workplace health and safety
and transport emissions.
CIEH, in partnership with AEA Technology, is the largest provider
of training to local authorities in the monitoring and control
of industrial emissions and local air quality management.
is already known about the impacts of particulate and NO2 pollution
on human and health and on the environment but there is a need
for more research. Organisations like the CIEH can assist Government
and others in identifying appropriate research subjects.
policies for improving air quality have not been as effective
as hoped and more needs to be done in a short timescale.
Government's stated policy of a greater degree of "Localism"
possibly provides opportunities for more effective action to improve
air quality in local areas (focus on appropriate areas and pollutants,
expertise available) but also obstacles (lack of relevant data
at local level, public spending cuts). The new public health agenda
in England specifically has the potential to give added impetus
and urgency to local action plans.
1. As a Chartered professional body, the CIEH
sets standards and accredits courses and qualifications for the
education of its professional members and other environmental
health practitioners. In partnership with AEAT, the CIEH provides
the UK's most extensive training programme for practitioners in
environmental monitoring of air quality. Members of the CIEH are
involved in the provision of public information about air quality
through schemes like AirText. The CIEH also provides evidence
and policy advice to local and national government, environmental
and public health practitioners and industry. The CIEH is a registered
charity with over 10,500 members.
2. As the Committee's earlier report
explained, there is some research evidence as to the substantial
mortality and cost impacts of poor air quality. The Committee
called for further research to be carried out, for example into
the costs to the NHS, and for more data to be made available relevant
to localities. To date, the CIEH is not aware of any improvement
on, nor differentiation of, the Defra figures for economic impacts
in the range £8 billion to £17 billion.
The GLA has produced a report on estimation of mortality impacts
of particulate air pollution in London.
3. There remains a need for further research
and the Government has not yet responded positively to the Committee's
earlier recommendation in taking forward this research. The CIEH
and others are currently investigating whether there may be other
avenues for commissioning relevant research, for example research
into the costs to the NHS of poor air quality. There is a need
for evidence also to support the quantification of the benefits
- economic, environmental and social - that improving air quality
4. The members of the CIEH who are engaged in
professional work concerning air quality, including those who
collect data from monitoring in the course of their duties, are
something of an un-tapped national resource. The CIEH would be
interested in taking part in deliberations as to how to make best
use of the expertise of, and the data generated by, these EHPs.
5. Clearly, existing public policy is not leading
to improvements in air quality on the scale required. The EU Commission
continues to threaten the UK with large fines over levels of particulate
pollution. The Government's responses of seeking further exemptions
and passing the obligation to pay those fines to local authorities
do not, in our view, amount in themselves to an effective policy
response to the challenges faced.
6. Notwithstanding, the policy development in
respect of public health services in England is potentially a
step in the right direction. The agenda set for public health
improvement in England by the Marmot report
provides a platform from which to argue the urgency of the need
for action on poor air quality. Raising the profile of public
health services (and not least local environmental health services)
in tackling such wider determinants of poor health and health
inequalities may provide added impetus for more effective action
at the local level. Better evidence is nonetheless needed to support
effective public health services at the local level, however,
including area-specific data on the scale of the problem: mortality,
morbidity, cost to healthcare services, costs to employers in
lost productivity and so on.
3 June 2011
14 5th Report 22 March 2010 HC 229-I &
Updated Third Report of the Interdepartmental Group on Costs and
Benefits July 2007 Back
Dr. Brian G Miller June 2010 Back
Fair Society, Healthier Lives. Feb 2010. Back