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Mayor of London visits to talk clean air and rare condition linked to COVID-19

Posted on Thursday 3rd February 2022
Mayor of London, Deputy Mayor, an Evelina London patient (with her mum) and staff

The Mayor of London, The Deputy Mayor of London and Evelina London clinicians with 12-year-old Salma and her mother.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, visited Evelina London to meet families and staff to talk about the impact of toxic air pollution on children’s health and learn about how Evelina London has been leading the way in COVID-19 research.

New analysis from City Hall shows that despite recent improvements in air quality, every hospital, medical centre and care home in the capital is in a location which breaches the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guideline limit for pollution.

Visiting Evelina London to talk with experts, young patients and their parents about the impact of air pollution, the Mayor stated his commitment to cleaning up the air around hospitals. On a previous visit to Evelina London in April 2019, he talked about the importance of reducing toxic air pollution and launched the world’s first 24-hour Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

The Mayor, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodriguez and Mayoral Health Adviser, Dr Tom Coffey OBE, also met with clinicians to discuss the growing link between air pollution and COVID-19. In spring 2020, Evelina London led the way with ground-breaking research to be the first to identify the condition Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS-TS), linked to COVID-19. Doctors and clinical nurse specialists detailed the challenge of responding to a new disease, and putting together a dedicated team to care for patients, comprising of staff from across the hospital including cardiology, infectious diseases, rheumatology, and paediatrics. To date Evelina London Children’s Hospital has treated over 400 patients with PIMS-TS.

Claire Lemer, Clinical Director at Evelina London, said: “Evelina London cares for more than 100,000 children and young people with a range of illnesses every year across our hospital and community services. Sadly, there’s not a week that goes by when we don’t see a child with a respiratory condition on our wards. Reducing air pollution will help to improve the lives of children and young people across the city, reducing unnecessary visits to hospital and helping them to lead healthier lives.”

Evelina London experts shared their experiences of treating children and young people with respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Twelve-year-old Salma, and her mum, Shaimaa, told the Mayor about living with and managing Salma’s asthma. Annalise and Luke, parents of five year old Lillie-Rose, also joined the discussion via video call to tell their story about how living in a highly polluted area impacted her health.

Poor air quality stunts the growth of children’s lungs and worsens chronic illnesses, such as asthma, lung and heart disease. Research from City Hall shows the impact of London’s air pollution on children growing up in polluted parts of the capital. It highlights that children have significantly smaller lung volume compared to their peers in the rest of England, with a loss of approximately five per cent in lung capacity.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “Tackling air pollution in our city has been a priority for me since I was first elected in 2016 and I’m more determined than ever to do everything I can to consign air pollution to the history books. We simply don’t have time to waste and I’m not willing to put off the action we can take a moment longer than necessary. Steps to tackle air pollution will also help tackle the climate crisis and I’m determined that we do everything possible to protect Londoners’ health both now and in the generations to come."