Earlier today, Extinction Rebellion staged a "die-in" protest at London's Science Museum to highlight the effects of air pollution on our health. Children as young as two wore bespoke pollution masks designed by the likes of Gee Vaucher, Bella Freud, Gavin Turk and Jeremy Deller.
The protestors took over the Making the Modern World gallery, responding to the Museum accepting sponsorships from fossil fuel companies, with its children's gallery Wonderlab sponsored by Norwegian energy company Equinor.
Wearing masks that read "Enough is Enough on Air Pollution", and holding banners with facts demonstrating the links between air pollution and serious health conditions, the group lay down in silence for 20 minutes. Once the "die-in" was concluded, speeches were made by parents concerned about their children's future.
The masks were donated by the artists to Extinction Rebellion UK and will be auctioned later this year. The proceeds will be split between Extinction Rebellion and other groups working directly to end the harm caused to children by air pollution.
In 2015, the World Health Organization estimated that over seven million people die from air pollution each year, making it the largest single environmental risk to health globally. Four and a half million of these deaths are due to outdoor air pollution. Each year in the UK, around 40,000 premature deaths are attributable to long term exposure to outdoor air pollution. This is more than 100 deaths per day from cardiovascular problems, strokes and respiratory disease.
Dr Terry Matthews, a member of Doctors for Extinction Rebellion, said: "Breathing illegal toxic air from fossil fuel combustion causes deaths and hospital admissions from heart attacks, strokes and asthma. Air pollution also increases the risk of dementia, impaired brain function and depression; and miscarriage and infertility. Child development is delayed, and child lung development can be reduced by around one-tenth.
"As we are surrounded by families today, my heart goes out to the most vulnerable who will suffer for many years to come from our failure to act on air pollution."