Here's the latest Argus column by South Wales East AM Mohammad Asghar:

RECENTLY, the National Assembly debated air quality in Wales.

I remember that, in a speech at the American University in Washington in June 1963, President John F Kennedy said: “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air.”

Famous words, of course, and very true.

Later in the same speech he spoke about human rights and went on to say: “The right to breathe air as nature provided it - the right of future generations to a healthy existence.”

It is a sad fact that Wales contains some of the most polluted areas in the United Kingdom.


And there is a clear link between air quality, deprivation and health.

Studies have shown the dangers to public health that follow repeated exposure to air pollution.

Air pollution increases the risk to mortality by having a detrimental effect on existing lung conditions.

It is also a cause of asthma and lung cancer.

This risk is particularly acute to children.

Exposure to air pollution is linked to diabetes, cognitive function, birth outcomes and damage to organs such as the liver and kidneys.

This situation highlights the need for a Clean Air Act in Wales.

The British Lung Foundation and Healthy Air Cymru have called on the Welsh Government to introduce such a bill.

The Welsh Government has been slow in responding to the health risks posed by poor air quality in Wales.

This failure to act resulted in Client Earth taking legal action.

Welsh ministers have failed to set clear targets, instead making vague statements which deny accountability.

A Clean Air Act would enshrine in law air quality guidelines produced by the World Health Organisation.

It would mandate the Welsh Government to produce a statutory air quality strategy with clear targets to improve air quality.

There would be a duty on local authorities to monitor and assess air pollution and to take prompt and effective action accordingly.

And it would introduce an obligation on local authorities to inform vulnerable groups when pollution levels breach recommended guidance.

As President Kennedy said more than 50 years ago, the right to breathe clean air is a human right.

We all breathe the same air.

We all have a right to breathe clean air.

Wales needs a Clean Air Act.