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Polluted air: Use an inhaler, wear a mask or move to the country

Doctor's shock advice for councillor with a cough

28 March, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Lib Dem councillor Luisa Porritt

THE ailment: persistent coughing for a few years.

The doctor’s advice: wear a face mask, stay away from busy roads or even move to the suburbs or country­side.

And the cause? London’s toxic air.

This is the guidance received by Liberal Democrat councillor Luisa Porritt, whose GP warned that pollution meant she should start using an inhaler to help with her breathing.

She said: “If this is how the toxic air is affecting me as a 31-year-old who has grown up in this area, what does this mean for the children growing up in Camden now? It’s a disturbing thought.”

Cllr Porritt, who lives in Belsize Park, said her brother had convinced her to see a doctor after a persistent and deep cough. With other causes ruled out, she was given advice on how to avoid breath­ing in harmful particles.

“I was mildly asthmatic as a child, but I was told the most likely cause was the air in London,” said Cllr Porritt. “The medical advice was to move to the suburbs or country­side, which isn’t really practical, given my resp­onsibilities as a councillor. He also suggested looking at a route mapper, looking to see which roads are most polluted and staying away from them, like they advise for children on the school run.”

She added: “The other advice was to wear a Cambridge face mask. The answer can’t be that we’ve all got to wear masks.”

Cllr Porritt said the inhaler was helping her.

“I do have sympathy for Camden Council as particles don’t recognise borough boundaries. It is not simply a problem in Camden,” she said.

“It could, however, do more to protect trees, as there is evidence that a canopy has an effect on reducing pollution from roads. It is not just about traffic. There are 9,000 premature deaths in London due to the air.”

She added: “That’s where the Mayor and government should be joining up good ideas across the boroughs to tackle this.”

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