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RSM Section Presidents speak out for clean air

The Presidents of two Royal Society of Medicine sections have raised the importance of clean air for public health.

Speaking to Prognosis magazine, Professor Maggie Rae, President of the RSM Epidemiology and Public Health Section, and Dr Neeraj Shah, President of the RSM Respiratory Medicine Section, explained why air quality is an important health debate.

In the article, Dr Shah said: “Long exposure to fine particles can cause structural damage lower down in the alveoli and it’s not possible to undo that.

“Everyone’s lung function declines after a certain age, and exposure to polluted air speeds up the rate of decline. If you remove exposure to the pollutants, your rate of decline will eventually return to normal.”

Professor Rae said that healthcare professionals are increasingly concerned about the impacts of environmental decline on health. She said: “Around the world we are seeing a big movement for tackling climate change.

“When I talk to young people training in all the medical specialties, they are not only interested in health and healthcare; they’re equally passionate about climate change because they see the clear connection between the two.”

You can read the article on page 26 of the latest issue of Prognosis, either online or by picking up a copy at the RSM’s central London home at 1 Wimpole Street.

As the evidence for links between air pollution and poor health grows, RSM President, Professor Roger Kirby, will this week join the heads of other institutions to raise awareness of the issue by taking part in a 15km bike ride around central London.

The event – called Ride For Their Lives – has been organised by the UK Health Alliance for Climate Change, of which the RSM is a member. The RSM is represented on the UKHACC by Trustee Dr Samantha Shinde. A consultant anaesthetist, Dr Shinde is nationally recognised for addressing the environmental consequences of anaesthesia.

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