World’s first diesel air pollution hospital ward appears on the South Bank

Climate campaigners claim the world’s first diesel air pollution hospital ward opened its doors on the South Bank yesterday to showcase the health impacts of air pollution.

The campaign stunt is being delivered by a group of campaigners, fronted by the group Mums for Lungs, with support from the Clean Cities Campaign, who are calling for London to phase out diesel vehicles by 2030.

The Diesel Pollution Ward for Children was set up at The Observation Point and features 10 hospital beds – each representing 280 of the 2,800 children and young people that were admitted to hospital with asthma in London between 2021 and 2022, according to government statistics.

London’s Diesel Pollution Ward for Children was revealed on the Southbank to highlight the effects of air pollution on children’s health (Picture: Simon Jacobs/PinPep)

Jemima Hartshorn, Founder of Mums for Lungs, said: “It’s unacceptable that children growing up in London today are breathing in illegal levels of air pollution.

“More and more children are being admitted to hospital with severe cases of asthma and being subjected to life-long health conditions.

“We need to clean up our roads to protect future generations from these conditions, and we have to start with phasing out diesel vehicles.”

Campaigners have said the health impacts of air pollution cost the NHS an estimated £20billion every year.

Diesel vehicles are among the biggest contributors to air pollution, accounting for 40 per cent of the city’s toxic nitrogen oxides from emissions.

Illegal levels of harmful pollutant Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) have been found across Greater London, including Lambeth, Westminster, Ealing, Brent and Kingston-Upon-Thames.

Dr Anna Moore, a respiratory doctor who works for the NHS, said: “The link between air pollution and respiratory conditions is well established, but many people don’t know that it has also been shown to affect every organ in the body.

“Research has connected air pollution to heart conditions, various cancers, babies’ development, dementia and even our mental health.

“Cleaning up our air – starting with heavily polluting diesel cars – will be a crucial step to freeing up hospital beds in the NHS and improving Londoners’ health.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said:”We’ve committed to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, and all new cars will be zero emission at the tailpipe by 2035.”

Pictured top: Mums for Lungs campaigners at the Diesel pollution ward for children on the Southbank (Picture: Jacobs/PinPep)

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