HC Deb 31 March 1994 vol 240 cc912-3W
Mr. Davidson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the extent of a link between the incidence of asthma and(a) air pollution in general and (b) oxides of nitrogen; and what steps he is taking to reduce air pollution in general and the amount of nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere.

Mr. Atkins

The Government are continuing to assess the links between air pollution and asthma, with the assistance of its advisory bodies on the health impacts of air pollution. At present it appears that while the causes of asthma remain unclear, air pollution can aggravate attacks in those already with the condition. The health effects of oxides of nitrogen were considered in a report by the Department of Health's advisory group on the medical aspects of air pollution episodes—MAAPE—published in November 1993, a copy of which has been deposited in the Library.

The systems for control of industrial emissions established in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and increasingly stringent vehicle emission controls are expected to secure significant reduction in the level of most pollutants over the next 10 years. Emissions of nitrogen oxides will be reduced in line with the United Kingdom's commitments under the Sofia protocol to the United Nations Commission for Europe convention on transboundary air pollution, signed in November 1988.

I propose shortly to publish a discussion paper as the first stage of a consultative process on measures to secure further improvement in air quality.