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Poor air quality poses a danger to public health as great as smoking and obesity. Medical research is revealing direct links between vehicle-generated pollutants and the triggering and exacerbation of respiratory, cardiac and neural conditions. Poor air quality could be contributing to thousands of early deaths every year in the United Kingdom, with a commensurate loss to the economy through lost days at work and increasing NHS expenditure.Sources of the pollution in our atmosphere are both natural and anthropogenic, but we share our urban environments with increasing levels of road traffic, so it is in this sector that we can make a significant impact on the quality of the air we breathe.The problem is current and we in the UK must take immediate, short term action to reduce pollution; but as the world’s urban population grows, we also need to be investigating longer term measures to reconcile transport demands with the need to sustain towns and cities as pleasant and healthy places in which we can live and work. This white paper looks at the problem of poor air quality in our urban areas and the range of possible solutions that are currently being studied or trialled with the potential to reduce pollution levels. At TRL, we believe that the sheer scope of these approaches necessitates the involvement and cooperation of an equally wide range of key stakeholders in forging a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to tackling the problem.

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