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I'm afraid air pollution has left my daughter fighting for breath

Leah Ward lives in Birmingham with her four children, including Lucy, 6, who has asthma. She explains why Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone must go further to protect little lungs across the West Midlands.

Both of my daughters have asthma but Lucy’s asthma is most severe. She started displaying symptoms at 18 months old and since then, she has been hospitalised 15 times, including six occasions where she was admitted to a ward. 

Air pollution could be the trigger

It is heart breaking and distressing to see your child in hospital, terrified and gasping for air, as the doctors fight against time to find a tiny vein to inject medication into. The fact that air pollution could be triggering Lucy’s asthma makes me sad and angry.

I sometimes wonder if Lucy’s asthma would be better if we moved to the countryside, but that’s just not feasible.

We live in Selly Oak which falls outside of the Clean Air Zone, but there is still a huge amount of traffic. That’s why I think the CAZ should be expanded, to protect more children like Lucy.

The problem is particularly bad around Lucy’s primary school. I see parents pulling up in their cars right outside the school gates, engines idling, with little consideration.

I don't feel safe

Part of the problem is that people don’t feel safe to walk or cycle on Birmingham’s roads and that’s why they use their cars to commute and for the school run.

As family, we are keen cyclists, but the roads around Birmingham are so dangerous that we would not allow the children to cycle on them.

My husband cycles to work everyday and has unfortunately been involved in several incidents involving either being knocked off or threatened by careless drivers.

230,000 people across the West Midlands are registered with lung conditions and they are at greatest risk from toxic air.

We’re calling for politicians to expand the Clean Air Zone to protect more people from harm.

Sign our open letter here



Find out more about air pollution in the West Midlands and what action we're taking to clean up the air in the region


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28 May 2021