Nearly 300 doctors, nurses and other health professionals from across the UK have signed a letter to Theresa May calling for government action to remove the current fleet of diesel vehicles from the roads as soon as possible.

The letter states that a national diesel reduction initiative, led by government, would represent a major public health advance. A third of its signatories live and work in London, where the problem is particularly acute.

 

The letter notes the government’s own Chief Medical Officer’s view that diesel vehicles should be phased out and highlights the strong and growing evidence regarding a range of health effects of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and black carbon (soot) emissions.

 

There is strong evidence in infants and children, including data from children in London, that exposure to fossil fuel-derived air pollution stunts lung growth. The action group, Doctors against Diesel, say that without urgent change, emissions from diesel vehicles will cause irreversible lung damage to the current generation of children.

 

Professor Jonathan Grigg, Professor of Paediatric Respiratory end Environmental Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, and founding member of Doctors Against Diesel said: "There is overwhelming evidence that locally-generated sooty particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide is harming children’s health. In London, we know that diesel engines are a major and unnecessary cause of air pollution along our roads. Cutting diesel emissions would therefore have an immediate impact on children’s personal exposure, and improve their long-term health. In children, combining lower pollution exposure with active travel would be a major public health advance - and must be done as soon as possible."