Did you know that the costs to society of air pollution are similar to those caused by obesity and smoking?

Far from being a new environmental concern, air pollution has been around for a long time and researchers have been studying the effects of air pollution on the nation’s health for decades.

Air pollution increases the risk of some serious illnesses, and can make existing conditions, like respiratory disorders, worse.

"All of the organs in the body seem to be affected in some way by breathing in air pollution," says Professor Frank Kelly, Director of the Environmental Research Group at King's College London.

Here are some ways air pollution affects our health

- Air pollution increases the risk of getting lung cancer, and contributes to about 1 in 13 cases.

- Being exposed to air pollution for a long time is bad for your heart and blood vessels. It is linked to a number of cardiovascular diseases in adults, such as furring of the arteries.

- Air pollution may increase the risk of bladder cancer.

- Air pollution increases the risk of death from cardiac and respiratory causes, especially among people with pre-existing cardiac or respiratory conditions.

- Air pollution leads to more visits to A&E and hospital admissions.

- Air pollution may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

- People who live near busy roads are more likely to get dementia (but we need to do more research to be sure it’s caused by air pollution).

- NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide) – a common air pollutant – causes coughs and phlegm in adults.

What are your plans for Clean Air Day? Why not walk or cycle to work or school - and if you already do this, organise an event? For more information on how to do this in your community, at work or in school, download one of our free toolkits.