Eleven ways to fight Air Pollution off

air pollution
Ecological catastrophy

As a big contributor to climate change, air pollution is damaging our planet. It’s important we all do our part in helping to improve the air we breathe.

While a large part of the pollution may come from industries and companies that are outside of our control, there are still many things we as individuals can do to make a difference to our air quality.

Here, we answer your most commonly asked questions about air pollution and share ten practical ideas that you can do now to start reducing your impact.

What is air pollution?

Air pollution is the term given to the small particles, chemicals, and gases that are released into the air.

These air pollutants can have a harmful impact on the environment and our health if they are breathed in.


Can you see air pollution?

The gases include CO2, or Carbon Dioxide, which traps heat in the atmosphere.

When there are too many of these particles we can sometimes physically see the effects in the air as ‘smog’.

You perhaps have seen soot or dust in the air before, in pictures. When smog is visible that means the air is very dangerous to breathe.

There are other air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter that have an impact on health. The World Health Organization found that there were no safe levels of particulate matter.

However, most of the time air pollution can’t be seen. Like oxygen, the particles can be invisible, but that doesn’t stop them from being very harmful.


Where does air pollution come from?

Did you know that there is one car for every two people in the UK?

80% of roadside nitrogen dioxide air pollution, where legal limits are being broken, comes from road transport. The increase in road traffic over recent decades not only impacts the air quality of our towns and cities but also has wider effects such as noise pollution, lack of physical activity, access issues, and road traffic collisions.

CO2 emissions from cars make up 13% of the UK total. If the UK continues as it has done, transport CO2 emissions are predicted to rise by 35% by 2030.

Why is air pollution bad?

Not only is air pollution having a devastating impact on the environment but it is affecting our health too.

Between 28,000 – 36,000 early deaths each year are caused by air pollution in the UK. The health impacts of exposure to air pollution are long-term, as particles worsen respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

At Sustrans, we’re working towards quieter and safer places to live and travel by initiatives such as 20-minute neighborhoods and Brum Breathes – our project which aims to tackle air pollution in Birmingham.

By encouraging more walking and cycling, the roads will be less congested and lead to less pollution.

Why do we need to act now?

CO2 emissions from cars make up 13% of the UK total. If the UK continues as it has done, transport CO2 emissions are predicted to rise by 35% by 2030.

So it’s critical that we transform our behavior in order to achieve our emissions reduction targets.

And one of the easiest ways we can do this is by making changes to the way we travel.

The Department for Transport says that it’s possible to achieve a 60% CO2 reduction in the UK’s domestic transport sector by 2030, but only with a real and early change in travel behavior.

Co2 Monitoring using a co2 monitor is needed to reduce emissions and other air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.

Our top eleven tips to help make a difference to the quality of our air

Here are 10 quick and easy ways you can both reduce your carbon footprint and help to improve our air today.

  1. Get a Commercial Grade Air Purifier

One of the most crucial concerns across different commercial businesses is poor indoor air quality; it can cause significant damage to the health and productivity levels of visitors and employees. Airborne pollutants from operational activities and visitors contaminate the quality of the air we inhale indoors. You can fight it off with the best hepa air purifier for Covid Australia.

2. Go Local

A great way to cut down on car journeys is to start traveling to shops in your local area by walking or cycling.

Combine your trips as much as possible. If going further away consider public transport such as bus or train and buy in bulk.

It’s often cheaper and more convenient than driving and parking your car. Then top-up in between big shops by supporting your local businesses.

To avoid breathing in air pollution from cars on the road, try looking at alternative traffic-free routes.

There are over 5000 traffic-free miles on the National Cycle Network.


2. Walk or cycle to school

Walking, cycling, or even scooting to school is a fantastic way to start the day.

Start good habits early. Kids who include physical activity in their daily lives are more likely to be active in adult life.

There are plenty of benefits to your own health. And you’ll be reducing air pollution and congestion around the school gates.



3. Start cycling or walking your commute

Build in some physical activity to your daily routine, by planning your commute to include active travel.

Try leaving the car at home and travel by bus or train, then walk or cycle that last mile.

Not only does this have the benefit of improving local air quality, but it is great for your mood and physical health.

Public transport helps reduce congestion on roads as well as reducing our individual footprint. CO2 emissions per passenger for train and coach are, on average, six to eight times lower than car travel.

4. Cut down on car journeys

One great way to start on your journey to lower air pollution is to go car-free.

Many have achieved this already, but we understand this isn’t always practical, especially if you live further away from amenities.

If you can’t let go of the car just yet, here are a few tips to help lower its impact:

  • Make sure to service it regularly, for example, if your car uses diesel, make sure the particulate filer is emptied regularly.
  • Consider switching to a cleaner car, such as an electric or hybrid, to lower your emissions. When purchasing, check its nitrogen dioxide emissions and avoid diesel if you can.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated.
  • Turn off your car when stationary in traffic. Leaving the engine running when the car is not moving can release many harmful pollutants into the air around you, as well as waste fuel.

5. Give car-sharing a go

If you’re often doing a journey to a similar location, such as work or school, as someone else locally to you it’s worth considering car sharing*.

There are often car-sharing schemes running that are worth taking a look at.

Not only will this help make a difference to the environment by having one less car on the road, but it can save you money on fuel.

Make sure you follow local COVID restrictions.

6. Switch energy suppliers

Air quality problems can also begin at home. Consider switching energy suppliers to companies that use renewable energy sources.

By checking your Energy Performance Certificate, you can see where there may be room for improvement, such as installing better insulation or more efficient appliances.


7. Avoid burning at home

Domestic burning has increased over the last decade, becoming the largest contributor to the UK’s particulate matter emissions.

Burning solid fuels, such as in open fires and wood-burning stoves have a significant impact on air pollution. Avoid burning leaves and rubbish in your garden too.


8. Cut down on your meat and dairy intake

While the connection between eating meat and air quality may not seem immediately obvious, scientists have found that animal agriculture is actually the largest producer of air pollutants at over 50%.

Cattle and dairy farming is responsible for a large number of ammonia emissions, which cause pollution not only in the air but to surface and ground waters.


9. Plant more trees and greenery

Supporting local garden initiatives (or starting your own) can help improve the long-term air quality in your local neighborhood. Plants help clean the air around them by consuming CO2.

For inspiration and advice, The Tree Council is a good resource on which trees may be good for your neighborhood.


10. Support Clean Air legislation

Keep an eye on local developments and policy changes that are focused on air pollution.

One such policy that areas in the UK are looking at is developing Clean Air Zones.

Air pollution is most acute on busy and congested roads in our towns and cities.

We believe that a broader network of Clean Air Zones (also known as Low Emission Zones in London and Scotland) that reduce motorized transport, underpinned by a legal framework that sets minimum standards and consistency between towns and cities is required.

This should run alongside a roll-out of ‘school streets’ (streets closed to motor traffic outside schools) to protect children, who are most vulnerable to air pollution.


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