Parents Concerned But Clueless About Fatal Air Pollution Risks, Survey Finds

June 10, 2021

More than 94% of parents underestimate the fatal impact of air pollution in the UK, new research has revealed.[1]

While three-quarters of parents (73%) said they were concerned about the effect of air pollution on their children’s health, the study showed that 60% don’t know if they live in a high or low pollution area or how to find out.

More than a third of respondents (36%) said they wished they had considered the air quality when moving to the area, with parents reporting concerns about the impact of traffic jams, main roads, diesel cars and parked cars with engines running during the school run.

Less than a third of parents (29%) said that they considered air pollution levels around their current home before moving in, but almost half said they would when looking to move in the future.

My Diesel Claim survey

Some 2,000 parents were polled as part of the research commissioned by, a campaign by leading access to justice law firm Pogust Goodhead. The research concluded that just 25% of people believed that car manufacturers were honest about the impact their vehicles had on the environment.

Jade Weiner, Legal Director and lawyer, said: “It’s no wonder that parents underestimate the seriousness of air pollution when popular manufacturers are accused of deliberately misleading customers and authorities about the real impact of their diesel vehicles.

“Increased levels of nitrogen dioxide cause harm to children, adults and the environment. We are committed to raising awareness of how air quality is linked to people’s health, while holding corporations to account for the harm that they are causing.

“The cases we are bringing to court should send a clear message to these manufacturers that people won’t tolerate being deceived when it comes to their and their children’s health.

“Because we can’t directly see it, the effects of emissions cheating can feel invisible. But, be sure, they are deadly serious.”

Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah

Eight out of ten parents supported the recent calls of a coroner for a change in the law after an inquest found that air pollution led to the death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah.

Coroner Phillip Barlow called for national pollution limits to be reduced after Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah was the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as the cause of death on their death certificate.

In a report to prevent future deaths, Mr Barlow said that the government should reduce existing legally binding targets for particulate matter pollution to bring them in line with the guidelines proposed by the World Health Organisation.[2]

Just half of parents (52%) knew that living in a more polluted area could reduce lung function, while a third (35%) did not know that air quality could cause respiratory problems later in life.

Just one in six parents (16%) felt confident that they were ‘fully aware’ of the consequences of air pollution.

With an estimated 8.5 million affected diesel vehicles on British roads, puts car manufacturers’ potential liability for consumer claims related to excess diesel emissions at £85billion.

Holding car manufacturers accountable

Chris Neill, Partner and Chief Legal Officer, said: “Fundamentally, these vehicles do not do what they say on the tin. Manufacturers have lied to the public to the detriment of drivers, their passengers, passers-by and anyone who breathes air.

“The power to force manufacturers to acknowledge their wrongdoing, and change their practices is in the hands of those who join the case against them.

“It is absolutely imperative that we hold these companies to account, forcing them to operate with a greater social and environmental conscience.”

Potentially affected vehicles include diesels produced by Ford, Vauxhall, Mercedes, BMW, Nissan, Fiat, Renault, Peugeot, Suzuki and more.


About the study

On behalf of Pogust Goodhead and the campaign, consumer research firm Censuswide surveyed 2,001 nationally representative parents with children under the age of 16. The research was conducted in May 2021.

[1] When asked how many premature deaths were caused by air pollution in the UK each year, 94% of respondents estimated 20,000 or below. Between 28,000 and 36,000 premature deaths per year are attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution. Source: Public Health England
[2] Source: BBC

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