A large number of patients with lung conditions have noticed improved symptoms as a result of a drop in air pollution during the Covid-19 crisis, a charity has said.
The British Lung Foundation (BLF) said that a survey of people with lung conditions found that 16% had noticed an improvement in symptoms.
Extrapolating the figures, the charity said that the drops in pollution levels could have contributed to better health for almost two million lung patients during lockdown.
Air pollution has been likened to worsening of symptoms for some lung patients, including those with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
As a result of stringent lockdown measures, road traffic use plummeted to its lowest levels in recent history.
More than 14,000 people with lung conditions responded to the BLF’s survey on how they are coping with coronavirus and the lockdown.
The poll found that one in five (20%) parents of a child with a lung condition said they noticed an improvement to their child’s symptoms.
The survey also showed that a quarter (24.6%) of people with asthma noted an improvement in their symptoms.
The British Lung Foundation and the Taskforce for Lung Health are calling for a long-term commitment to reducing air pollution in the UK.
Zak Bond, policy and public affairs officer at the British Lung Foundation, said: “Air pollution can increase your likelihood of getting a lung condition and cause lasting damage to children’s growing lungs.
“Now, more than ever before, we have all become aware of how important it is to look after our lungs, and the Government has a duty to ensure that as the country recovers from Covid-19, we can continue to keep air pollution levels down, and keep pushing them lower, with the rapid introduction of Clean Air Zones, support for public and active transport, and tougher air quality laws.
“We want to see the Government commit to reaching the WHO’s (World Health Organisation) guidelines for fine particulate matter by 2030 at the latest.
“For those most vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, such as people with existing respiratory conditions, or those recovering from Covid-19, clean air is crucial for living well now, and in the future.”
It comes as experts from the University of Surrey created new guidance for schools to help tackle the effects of air pollution.
Measures include: encouraging schools to restrict the number of windows and doors open in classes that face drop-off/pick up zones; planting green barriers – such as hedges – to minimise daily exposure to harmful particles; and encouraging new schools to be built away from main roads.