Yet overhauling public transport in cities like Leeds, imposing restrictions on the most polluting vehicles and accelerating the uptake of low-polluting cars, vans and lorries takes time. It will not happen overnight – even in those areas fortunate to have good rail and bus links.
However interim measures can make a difference. Often congestion, and therefore emissions, builds up because traffic lights are poorly programmed. Councils should look at this.
It is also the height of selfishness for parents to sit in their cars, with the engine idly, as they wait to collect their children from school – a criticism made forcefully by Public Health England. Peer pressure, and a letter from teachers, should suffice.
And as well as promoting safer walking and cycling to and from schools, all new developments should be built from with the environment and transport in mind from the start.
Taken together, they can begin to make a cumulative difference. And this is why such measures, however small, do matter. If, by way of comparison, 30,000 people were being killed each year because of contaminated water, there would, be a national outcry and immediate demands for action. Why, therefore, should it be any different when it comes to air pollution and the link with human health?