The effects of air pollution on human health are now well understood, and the connections between air pollution and our health are becoming clearer.

Air pollution affects everyone’s health, but the impact is greater on vulnerable people such as the very young and old, and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Scotland already has the highest rate of lung disease in the UK, particularly in our cities and urban areas. Heart disease is also more common in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK. Air pollution adds to this burden of illness as well as adding a lot to the costs of health services.

Children are especially vulnerable due to their still developing bodies, especially their lungs, which may be permanently damaged at an early age by exposure to harmful pollutants.

Air pollution affects people’s everyday health and ability to lead a normal active healthy life, especially if they already have poor lung health (e.g. asthma or chronic obstructive airways disease) or circulation problems (angina, strokes, heart attacks). There is also some evidence of links to a wider range of health impacts, such as poor birth outcomes (pre-term birth, low birth weight), diabetes and possibly even neurological problems (e.g. dementia).