Clean Air Day 2019: Our opportunity to address air pollution
by Larissa Lockwood, Head of Health and Air Quality at Global Action Plan, coordinators of Clean Air Day
What will you do for Clean Air Day 2019? 20 June is the opportunity for environment professionals to bring the issue of air pollution to the attention of our workplaces and households. Air pollution affects us all at work, at home and out and about. It causes heart and lung diseases, is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development and may even contribute to mental health issues. Every year air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK. But it doesn’t need to be this way. If we all work together we could have clean air. And that is what Clean Air Day is all about.
Air pollution is both an outdoor and indoor problem, as our research has shown: Airtopia studies revealed that nearly half of UK homes have high indoor air pollution (with 13% exceeding World Health Organisation limits for carcinogen formaldehyde) and indoor vs outdoor air pollution comparison research showed that indoor air pollution is on average 3.5 times higher than outside.
Although the majority (86%) of people in a recent nationwide survey believe that their day to day actions can have a direct impact on the air quality in their local environment, comparatively few were taking actions to protect their health from air pollution, such as choosing to cycle/walk a route previously driven (35%), turning off the car engine when stationary (34%) or using natural/eco cleaning products (9%).
Employers have the opportunity to address this knowledge-action gap by providing information on the actions that employees can take to reduce, and protect themselves from, air pollution, and by encouraging staff to take pollution-busting action. The Clean Air Day campaign has free, ready-to-use resources such as posters, leaflets, newsletter templates and social media memes, to make it as easy as possible for every workplace to get involved with Clean Air Day:
- Spread the word – use the social media toolkit to let staff know about air pollution and the actions they can take and share with @CleanAirDayUK #CleanAirDay
- Meet virtually – challenge teams to meet by video or teleconference instead of driving
- Giveaway a freebie - give away free bus tickets, cycle hire, car club membership or free breakfasts for cycling and running commuters
- Car park takeover - if people can be encouraged to leave the car at home for the day, they can be rewarded by turning the car park in to a green oasis, with pop up food outlets for lunch
- Clean Van Commitment - 95% of vans are diesel, but electric models are increasingly available. Check whether you or your suppliers can upgrade your van fleet to electric vehicles
- Take it EV - encourage electric car drivers who are passionate about EVs to take a colleague or a neighbour for a spin, aiming to convert 100,000 more drivers to choose an EV when they upgrade.
Clean Air Day is a chance for the whole country to come together and improve air quality through collective action. And as sustainability professionals, let’s seize on this opportunity on June 20 2019 – and beyond - to clean up the air in and around our organisations.
Find out more at www.cleanairday.org.uk