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National Clean Air Day: Top 7 tips to dodge the pollution

June the 15th welcomes the first ever National Clean Air Day, giving us a chance to understand more about air pollution and what we can do to protect our health, and reduce pollution levels.


Every year, air pollution contributes to 40,000 premature deaths by increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma attacks, as well as being associated with dementia. Did you know the costs to society of air pollution are similar to those caused by obesity and smoking, and did you also know that those most at risk are our children?

25% of all car journeys in the UK are less than 2 miles. If all of these car journeys were walked instead it would save £16m in fuel and the population would burn an additional 3.6 billion calories. Recent research has revealed that cars gather pollution from the vehicle in front, meaning car drivers can be exposed to significant pollution. Indeed, one study found that drivers on the same route as cyclists were exposed to nine time more pollution, than the cyclists themselves.

In a poll conducted by WSP last year, “improving air quality was rated as the most important sustainability priority for Londoners”, and “one in four said they’ve seriously considered moving out of London because of bad air quality”. As both an environmental concern and health concern it is important to increase our awareness of air pollution and exactly what we can do to breathe clean air.

Follow these easy top tips to dodge the pollution and curb your contribution:

  • Avoid busy roads and discover the side streets. They will lower your exposure to air pollution by 20%.
  • Get out of your car and start walking. Drivers can be exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians.
  • Make the courier do the carrying. Find your local pick up point and use a bike messenger for local deliveries if possible.
  • Use your feet, take to the street. Walk, cycle, take the bus, tube, tram or even the boat… all reduce pollution, and help keep you fit.
  • Switch your engine off when stationary. And, if you happen to be stuck in traffic, put the air conditioning on, and put your windows up. It will help recirculate the air and stop sucking in more pollution! And, keep your car’s filters clean
  • Drive into the future and explore electric or LPG (Liquid petroleum gas) cars, and start saving on road tax.
  • And finally, switch your energy suppliers and chose the renewable option.

Be part of National Clean Air Day: Make a pledge to protect your health and reduce pollution.  To find out more go to www.cleanairday.org.uk

Sophie Hill is a graduate consultant in the air quality team at WSP.