Congestion charging should be imposed across the UK and cars should be banned from idling near schools to improve air quality, the government public health agency has said.
Public Health England (PHE) said 28,000 to 36,000 deaths in the UK each year could be attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution.
The organisation’s report describes air pollution as the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, and outlines a series of recommendations for improving air quality, including stopping cars idling near school gates, promoting car pool lanes, and providing priority parking for electric cars.
Prof Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director of PHE told the BBC: "Transport and urban planners will need to work together with others involved in air pollution to ensure that new initiatives have a positive impact.
"Decision makers should carefully design policies to make sure that the poorest in society are protected against the financial implications of new schemes."
The PHE report recommends:
- Redesigning cities so people aren't so close to highly polluting roads by, for example, designing wider streets or using hedges to screen against pollutants
- Investing more in clean public transport as well as foot and cycle paths
- Encouraging uptake of low emission vehicles by setting more ambitious targets for installing electric car charging points
- Discouraging highly polluting vehicles from entering populated areas with incentives such as low emission or clean air zones.