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Poor air quality is a huge issue – by Alexa Gill & Anna Koor of Let Pompey Breathe #letpompeybreathe

Let Pompey Breathe is back again to talk about air pollution. You can read all about our campaign to reduce air pollution in Portsmouth and find more information on the petition we are currently collecting signatures for here. Today (21st of June) is Clear Air Day and we want to talk about ways you can protect yourself from air pollutants and how to join in the fight for clean air.

Communication is key

Poor air quality is a huge issue, and it can seem overwhelming to think about how we can tackle it, as individuals. Dealing with this growing problem requires a joint effort, we need councils, local business and residents to work together. Education and engagement is critical, there still seems to be a disconnect between people’s understanding of the consequences of dirty air and its impact on our health. With an estimated 40,000 premature deaths a year across the country due to outdoor air pollution, according to a report from the Royal College of Physicians, it’s become a national health crisis. So we need to build awareness of the problem. Some suggestions are:

  • Talk to your friends, family and colleagues about air pollution and what they can do to help reduce it and to protect themselves from it, particularly the vulnerable including young children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems.
  • Approach your employer about how they plan to address poor air quality. Could they set up a cycle to work scheme, update their transport policy or change suppliers?
  • If you’re a parent, speak to other parents and school teachers about starting a ‘walk to school’ campaign (a ‘walking bus’), or setting up a car share scheme.
  • Use social media platforms to spread the word and pass on useful information. Make sure to use hashtag #LetPompeyBreathe
  • Contact your local councillors to tell them you care about this problem and urge them to press for improvements in your neighbourhood and places in the city you visit regularly. One simple but effective step would be to erect signage alerting drivers not to idle their engines illegally, particularly in busy public places or where there are young children such as outside schools, at taxi ranks, bus and train stations.

Dirty Air isn’t just outside

In addition to the estimated 40,000 deaths a year due to outdoor air pollution there’s also the yet unquantified effects of indoor pollutants, which include radon, biological materials, particulates and nitrogen dioxide. This needs serious consideration as we spend the majority of our time inside. But there are some measures that can be taken to lower the risk:

  • Ensure you open windows when cooking.
  • Dry your washing outside whenever possible. It’s important to have good ventilation to reduce your exposure and these steps will also help reduce the accumulation of moulds which are air pollutants.
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, consider replacing it with a natural gas version. Not only will you reduce the emissions going outside, but the air quality should improve in your home.
  • Candles are another cause of air pollution so limit your use of these where possible.
  • By using less gas and electricity, you’ll reduce the air pollution you are creating. Simple steps like switching off lights when not in use, only running the washing machine/dishwasher when there’s a full load and filling the kettle with only the water you need, can reduce your energy consumption and save you some money in the process!
  • A report by Nasa revealed that there are some plants which are known for cleaning the air and are mostly easy to look after. These include Rubber Plant, Peace Lily, Ficus Alii, Spider Plant, Dracaena, Weeping Fig, several species of Palm, and different varieties of Philodendron.

 

Reducing air pollution would not only protect our health but also slow down climate change. There is still hope if we work together and act quickly.

Combination of cold starts and short journeys are a major barrier to air pollution improvements by Larissa Lockwood, Head of Health at Global Action Plan

Here we are again with another guest piece, they are coming thick and fast at the moment, if you want to feature on Crowdleaf.org.uk too, please do contact us!

This time we talk about the pressing issue of Air Pollution and Clean Air Day 2018, with a guest piece by Larissa Lockwood, Head of Health at Global Action Plan.

A combination of cold starts and short journeys are a major barrier to air pollution improvements :

More than half of car trips nationally are under 5 miles. In urban areas such as inner London, a third of car trips are just under 2 miles.

Double the amount of pollution emitted from cars in first 5 minutes of journeys compared to the rest of the journey.

Clean Air Day 2018 calls on UK residents to leave their cars at home on 21 June and walk or cycle instead.

The combination of the pollution burst that is being created as cars warm up in the first 5 minutes of journeys, together with the large proportion of  journeys being short ones, is making a significant contribution to the UK’s air pollution challenge. Drivers are suffering the worst effects of this pollution burst as there can be up to double the amount of pollution inside vehicles.

Latest analysis of the EQUA Index data shows that the average daily distance driven in passenger cars in urban areas is not sufficient for a vehicle’s pollution control system to warm up and become fully functional. For the majority of vehicles tested by Emissions Analytics, it can take more than five minutes for pollution control systems to reach operating temperature.

Larissa Lockwood, Head of Health at Global Action Plan, the organisers of Clean Air Day, said, “Taking collective action to tackle air pollution every day can make a massive difference, particularly if we cut down on using the car for these short, polluting journeys, many of which can be walked or cycled instead.

“Imagine if more people left the car at home every day, particularly for these short journeys. We could achieve similar levels of clean air on a daily basis as we did when the roads closed during the London Marathon which led a massive 89% drop in air pollution. We would suffer far fewer health problems from air pollution and we would also reduce levels of congestion and free up our streets, making them safer.

“Let’s take action together on Clean Air Day, 21 June, to make a real difference to the air we breathe. Clean Air Day has developed a range of advice, top tips, and information on the actions that everyone can take to protect themselves from pollution and reduce their impact.”

Small steps can mean major change.  Global Action Plan, the organisers of Clean Air Day, suggests that if we all commit to just one of the following, regularly, the differences will be great:
Use your feet, take to the street and get active – Walk, cycle, bus, tube, tram, boat, however you like to travel, leave your car at home and take to the streets. As well as cutting down the amount of pollution you make, you’ll increase your daily exercise.
Drive in to the future – Cars may not fly or run on trash yet but when you upgrade your car, explore an electric, hybrid or LPG model (to save on your road tax too)
Give your car a holiday – There are some easy ways to use your car less; car-sharing or working from home if possible.  And they quickly become part of your routine.
Get out of your car – Car drivers can be exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist.  So, avoid sitting in your car in heavy traffic where pollution can build up and walk or cycle instead
Keep your car tyres inflated – Having well-inflated tyres means your car will be more efficient and use less fuel. Great for the environment and great for your pocket too.

Air pollution causes heart disease and worsens asthma in adults and children. It is damaging the health of all of us, but particularly young children and those with heart and lung problems. Every year in the UK 29,000 people die prematurely from air pollution – that’s about 80 people every day.

Research has shown that there are still significant gaps in public understanding of air pollution and we urgently need to impress upon people the need for them to get involved and how they can make a difference.

2018’s Clean Air Day on 21 June will create a groundswell of action bringing thousands of people together to make UK cities cleaner and healthier. It will provide guidance on the actions people can take today to reduce the air pollution they create and advice on what they can do to protect themselves and their families in the future.