We visit our GPs to improve our health, but travelling to some doctor’s surgeries could actually worsen conditions like asthma due to the high levels of air pollution that surround them, new research suggests.
Around 17.9 million NHS patients in England are registered at a GP practice that exceeds the World Health Organisation annual limit for PM2.5 air pollution, the data suggests – equivalent to nearly one in three of us.
PM2.5 is a measure of tiny particle pollution or “particulate matter” that’s the size of 2.5 microns or less. The majority this pollution comes from road transport and PM2.5 has been linked to causing and worsening diseases including asthma, coronary heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.
Outdoor air pollution in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause 4.2 million premature deaths in 2016, largely due to PM2.5, according to the WHO.
Polly Billington, director of UK100, which conducted the analysis, said the latest figures show air pollution is a national problem that must be addressed.
“Some of the most vulnerable groups of people including young children and older people will walk to their GP, often to get help with respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis,” she said. “This shows the real danger to their health of the air pollution in their communities.”
SolStock via Getty Images
Perhaps surprisingly, some of the worst affected areas are outside London, several in coastal areas. The top 10 most polluted GP practices are located in Barrow in Furness, Lowestoft, Penzance, Ipswich and Portsmouth.
Birmingham has the most numbers of patients at toxic GP surgeries, with nearly half a million patients registered in areas that exceed WHO air pollution limits. This is followed by a number of London boroughs including Lambeth, Newham and Wandsworth.
The 10 GP Surgeries with worst levels of PM2.5 air pollution in England, according to the data, are:
1. Atkinson Health Centre, Barrow-in-Furness, LA14 2LR
2. Norwood Medical Centre,…