The Friends of the Earth have launched a campaign to promote citizens action and citizens’ science to address the growing concern of air pollution in our communities. These clean air kits are supplied for a donation and allow access for everyone to understand the quality of air in our streets.
Every year, air pollution kills tens of thousands of people in the UK. It’s also linked to asthma, premature births, lung cancer and heart disease. And it harms children – there is a risk of their lungs not developing properly. Transport is the main source of pollution in towns and cities. These tips will help reduce your exposure to toxic – and often invisible – fumes in our air.
The first batch of clean air kits sold out in 2 hours across the Country and Friends of the Earth are now starting to build up a national picture air pollution on a map to be developed and published with experts at Kings College, London.
Locally the first of these kits has been deployed in Hednesford and the results will be published in due course. Everyone can register an interest for the next batch of clean air kits to be distributed by Friends of the Earth at https://www.foe.co.uk/page/clean-air-kit-register-your-interest
Cannock Chase Green Party Councillor for Hednesford South, Paul Woodhead commented
“Cannock Chase has a designated air quality management zone at Bridgtown along the A5 however we need to understand how air pollution is affecting us all across our district and indeed the country it is a silent killer.
“This initiative by Friends of the Earth is a fantastic effort to engage people in understanding the quality of air across our communities. It is simple to set up and relatively inexpensive to get involved and I would encourage everyone to apply for the next batch of kits so we can build a complete picture of air quality in Cannock Chase”
Here are seven shocking facts about air pollution from the Friends of the Earth
1. Air pollution is one of the UK’s biggest killers
Breathing in air pollution can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, asthma and even cancer.
2. It causes around 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK
Says a report from the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
- Globally, air pollution causes more deaths than alcohol and drug abuse
More than malaria and HIV/Aids combined. And more than road traffic accidents.
4. In the past 2 years, more Londoners have died from air pollution than during the Great Smog of 1952-53
Invisible pollution kills up to 9,000 people early a year in the capital. The Great Smog killed about 12,000 residents in Greater London.
5. Sitting inside a car can be more dangerous for your health
Pollution monitoring has found emissions to be 2.5 times higher inside a vehicle.
- A child born today might not breathe clean air until they are 9
Dozens of UK cities are breaking EU limits on air pollution. The government isn’t planning to reduce pollution to legal levels til at least 2020 – and in London, 2025.
7. About 11 million cars were designed to cheat air pollution tests
Last September Volkswagen was caught using sophisticated software programmes to cheat emissions tests.
Here are nine top tips to avoid toxic fumes from transport from Friends of the Earth
1. Drivers and passengers are exposed to massive pollution, so try leaving the car at home
Surprisingly, being shut inside a car often doesn’t protect you from diesel fumes. An experiment by the Healthy Air Campaign found that a car driver was exposed to more than twice the amount of air pollution as a person walking the same busy route – and almost 8 times more than a cyclist.
2. Stay back from the road edge
Air pollution can vary even within a few hundred metres from the source. The more space you can put between yourself and the edge of a busy road, the better.
- Walk or go by bicycle
70% of journeys in the UK are short – 5 miles or under. But the vast majority of these are made by car. Think about how much pollution we could wipe out by walking or cycling more. Pedestrians and cyclists tend to avoid the higher concentrations of pollution that motorists and their passengers are exposed to. And every car journey avoided is improving the air for everyone.
4. Avoid busy roads
Walkit lets you choose low pollution walking routes. Similarly, on Cycle Route Planner you can opt for a ‘moderate route’ which avoids busy main roads when possible. Other than walking around with an oxygen tank, this is the best tip for attempting to lower your exposure.
- Don’t flag down a taxi during rush hour
A queue of traffic creates a stream of air pollution. This gets sucked in through vehicle vents and remains trapped inside (with you). Scary stuff.
6. Get pollution alerts
Some days are worse than others. Some are much worse. Sign up at Airtext for text message, email or voicemail alerts about upcoming pollution. If you suffer from health issues that are exacerbated by high pollution, getting advance warning can give real peace of mind.
- Idling isn’t attractive
Cars waiting with their engine turned on is called idling. For example, you often see a queue of vehicles idling outside school gates. It creates a lot of pollution. Can you work with a school or your local authority to encourage people to turn off their engines when they are waiting?
8. Plants and trees catch air pollution
Yes, it’s true. So if you live, work or study close to busy roads, it’s the perfect excuse to get planting.
9. Ditch air fresheners and use natural cleaning products
Indoor air pollution is also a real issue. Sources include smoking, boilers, gas cookers and heaters, chemicals from new furniture, air fresheners and household cleaning products. The advice is to open windows several times a day to let in a good breeze. Natural ways to clean your home.
The first air monitoring kit has been deployed on Hill Top, Hednesford