Published: Sat, June 23, 2018
Science | By

Millions of British children exposed to harmful pollution

Millions of British children exposed to harmful pollution

MP Debbie Abrahams is encouraging everyone to help improve air quality for all by ditching their cars and getting active on Clean Air Day, Thursday, June 21.

Evidence shows that spending time in areas with high levels of air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms, damage lung function and cause other health problems such as heart attacks, strokes and low birth weight.

The BHF is urging government to make this happen by adopting World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality guidelines into United Kingdom law. Free resources including toolkits and social media guides have been offered to organisations seeking to take part.

"Short of cycling and walking, there's no greener way to travel around Greater Manchester than by tram".

"We breathe in polluted air every day and we all need to take action to help change things". If everyone makes a small change it will add up to a very big difference for local air quality.

Clean Air Day was marked in Southwark by an idling action event outside The Shard, whilst nearby Redcross Way was closed to traffic and given over to street games for the afternoon.

"In 2016, 91 percent of the urban population worldwide was breathing air that did not meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines value for particulate matter (PM 2.5); more than half were exposed to air pollution levels that were at least 2.5 times higher than that of the safety standard", said the 2018 Sustainable Development Goals Report launched at the United Nations headquarters in NY. It is important that we try and make sure our air quality is the best it can be.

Pledges to take action include: leaving the vehicle at home just one day a week; car-sharing when possible; working from home regularly; walking and cycling more; and encouraging friends to do the same.

So how can you get your children involved in the day?

Oxford City Council was named as the number one local authority in the United Kingdom for tackling air pollution by Government Business and ClientEarth named the City Council as one of the best local authorities in the United Kingdom for tackling air pollution.

Messages promoting Clean Air Day have also been displayed on all major routes into Aylesbury town centre on the electronic road signs with a message highlighting what action motorists can take to improve air quality on the day itself, such as turning your auto engine off when in traffic.

"Our new Clean Air Strategy sets out how we will be the first major developed economy to reduce air pollution in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) limits and we have invested 3.5 billion pounds to reduce harmful emissions", he said in a statement.

A recent Travel to Work survey conducted by SYPTE with over 2,000 people in South Yorkshire showed that around 60 per cent of the respondents use a private auto for some of, or all, their journey to work, but majority (82 per cent) could do some, or all, of their journey by public transport.

Waltham Forest council in the north east of London is also working with schools to promote Clean Air Day, having recruited more than 30 schoolchildren to become Air Quality Ambassadors ahead of the event.

Earlier this month the children attended a training session in the Council Chamber at Waltham Forest Town Hall where they shared their views on how air quality could be improved in the borough with deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for the environment Councillor Clyde Loakes.

The report on the new study - due next year - will provide practical recommendations to Government on what can be done to reduce indoor air pollution, focusing on adjusting ventilation, filtering air, and controlling indoor sources of pollution, all of which could reduce health risks by between 20-44%.

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