Hospitals are busier on days when air quality is worse.
Hold Your Breath
But now, new data out of the United Kingdom shows that air pollution can seemingly trigger heart attacks and stokes, too — bringing into focus the more immediate impacts of poor air quality.
For this study, researchers from King’s College London gathered data on daily air pollution levels in nine cities in the U.K. and divided the data into "high pollution days" and "low pollution days."
The researchers then looked at daily data on heart attacks and strokes in each city, and found that emergency services treated an average of 124 more people for heart attacks and 231 more people for strokes on high pollution days than on low.
King’s College plans to release its full report on the study in November, but according to Simon Stevens, National Health Service England's chief executive, the preliminary data shows there's no time to waste in addressing air pollution in England and beyond.
"These new figures show air pollution is now causing thousands of strokes, cardiac arrests, and asthma attacks, so it’s clear that the climate emergency is in fact also a health emergency," he told The Guardian. "Since these avoidable deaths are happening now, not in 2025 or 2050, together we need to act now."
READ MORE: Scores more heart attacks and strokes on high pollution days, figures show [The Guardian]
More on air pollution: Researchers Find Pollution Is the Biggest Global Threat to Human Health