The British Heart Foundation has warned that heart and circulatory disease deaths related to air pollution could exceed 21,000 over the next decade in the South East of England, unless the new Government takes bold action.

Statistics from the British Heart Foundation show that as many as 1300 heart and circulatory deaths could be attributed to particulate air pollution in the next decade in Oxfordshire.

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Jacob West, from the British Heart Foundation, said: "Every day, millions of us across the country are inhaling toxic particles which enter our blood and get stuck in our organs, raising our risk of heart attacks and stroke. Make no mistake – our toxic air is a public health emergency, and we haven’t done enough to tackle this threat to our society."

He added: "We need to ensure that stricter, health-based air quality guidelines are adopted into law to protect the health of the nation as a matter of urgency. Clean Air legislation in the 1950s and 60s, and more recently the smoking ban in public places, show that government action can improve the air we breathe.

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"Decision makers across the country owe it to future generations to help stop this alarming figure from becoming a reality. That’s why we are urging people to contact their MP and demand a change in the law."

Dr Mark Miller, a British Heart Foundation-funded researcher specialising in air pollution, said: “Air pollution is a serious public health issue which affects us all, and evidence of the negative impact toxic air has on our health is increasing all the time."