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Tag Archive Alexa Gill

Who and What are Let Pompey Breathe? By Alexa Gill & Anna Koor #letpompeybreathe

Let Pompey Breathe is a campaign group made up of several environmental groups and parties concerned about the poor air quality in Portsmouth and the lack of action to date from the council. We believe it is everybody’s right to be able to breathe clean air. The main purpose of the campaign is to reduce air pollution in Portsmouth and bring it down to legal levels. We’re asking the council to commit to reduce air pollution to meet WHO standards as soon as possible.

 

Air Pollution is a problem

Currently Portsmouth’s air quality is among the worst in the UK and it’s widely thought that 95 premature deaths a year in the city are related to air pollution. However, this figure is based on small particulates (PM2.5) such as emitted from diesel vehicles. When taking into account the effect of nitrogen oxide (NOX) and other air pollutants, that figure is worryingly thought to be as much as 6 times that. Furthermore, Portsmouth’s air pollution problem has been identified as roadside NOX pollutants. In February 2018 ClientEarth won a court hearing ruling that 33 authorities were in breach of meeting the government’s targets on legal levels of air pollution. Portsmouth was among those authorities.

 

Strong action is needed

Since the campaign launched, we’ve been out in the local community spreading the word about our concerns. In April we staged a peaceful demonstration outside the city civic offices, using ‘grave stones’ to highlight the number of premature deaths that are caused by air pollution. One of our campaigners delivered a letter to several key members of the City Council, calling for strong action to tackle the problem. Green MEP for the South East, Keith Taylor was in attendance. That evening he, along with 2 speakers from Let Pompey Breathe spoke about the air pollution issues we are facing across the city and why it’s so important we try to tackle this public health crisis.  

Since the beginning of May we’ve been focused on collecting signatures for the petition we’ve got running, asking the council to commit to reducing air pollution in the city. Anyone who lives, works or studies in Portsmouth can sign the petition. We’ve had stalls at a local Green Film Festival and at different points around the city. Residents are receptive and keen to sign. We’ve also had a bit of press, giving an interview on the local radio station. We’ve just reached the required 1000 signatures to ensure the issue is debated at full council. But we still need more! The greater number of people we can reach to sign the Petition, the further we’re able to go in demonstrating to the council that the electorate want action on this matter. If you are not eligible to sign, sharing it with people who are would be a great help.

The first step would be for the Council to publish an Air Quality Action Plan for consultation. It’s important they do this as a collaborative approach to developing robust and sustainable solutions to the problem. Everyone needs to have an input including local businesses, residents and environmental groups.

Get Involved

If you want to participate in tackling this issue, a great way to do so is donate your time and or money to organisations that are working to fight this problem. Some suggestions are ClientEarth, Earth Justice, Friends of the Earth, Green Peace. Or consider the Green Party to help get more councillors elected who will stand up for clean air.

We are always looking for volunteers to help with the #letpompeybreathe campaign, and increase our network. Please get in touch if you want to get involved!  

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.