Trees and plants in Doncaster helping the NHS to save over £15m by removing air pollution.
A study for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals tha the NHS avoided £15.6 million in health costs thanks to air quality improvements by natural vegetation in Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley, in 2015.
That means £19.34 was saved for every resident of these areas.
Woodlands, grasslands and shrubs in Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham absorbed 6.9 tonnes of air pollutants, which equated to about 58 kg of contaminants per hectare.
The most harmful of these substances is PM2.5, small particles which have about 3 percent of the diameter of a human hair. These particles can trigger chronic disease such as asthma, heart disease, bronchitis, and cause other respiratory problems
The data also included PM10, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone and ammonia.
In Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham, ozone was the pollutant most absorbed by plants, making up about 72 per cent of the total.
Professor Paul Cosford, Medical Director and Director of Health Protection at Public Health England, said: "Air pollution is a growing threat to the public’s health, evidence shows it has a strong causal association with coronary heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and childhood asthma."
Karen Exley, Head of Public Health England’s air quality and public health group, said: “Long-term exposure to particulate matter is known to be a contributory factor in early deaths, particularly for people with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and is estimated to have an effect equivalent to 29,000 deaths a year in the UK.
“Long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide is also thought to contribute to early deaths although its effects have yet to be quantified.”
Nationally, the ONS estimates there were 7,100 fewer lung and heart-related hospital admissions, 27,000 fewer life years lost and 1,900 fewer premature deaths thanks to the service provided by nature. The saving for the whole of the UK was £1 billion.