Parents ‘unaware’ of in-car air pollution risk

Research conducted ahead of the UK’s first ever National Clean Air Day tomorrow (15 June) has suggested that parents may be unaware of the dangers of exposure to air pollution when driving their children to school.

Commissioned by Global Action Plan – organiser of the National Clean Air Day initiative – the research suggests that some parents are “unnecessarily exposing themselves and their children to high levels of air pollution, and creating a bigger health crisis by avoiding physical activity.”

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Global Action Plan has highlighted a perceived awareness of the dangers of air pollution to drivers and passengers of cars

Ahead of NCAD tomorrow, Global Action Plan has pointed to studies which suggest that the risk of exposure to high air pollution levels may be greater for drivers and passengers of cars, rather than pedestrians on the road outside (see airqualitynews.com story).

And, market research conducted on behalf of the behaviour change charity has suggested that as many as 96% of parents do not think that driving exposes them to the most air pollution when travelling compared to cycling and walking.

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Up to 43% of those surveyed also claimed that they thought they would be safe from harm within a car, if the windows are closed.

Chris Large, partner, Global Action Plan, said: “We set up National Clean Air Day precisely because we don’t want Brits to accidentally put themselves in high air pollution situations. We may feel safe from the elements inside our cars, but we’re not safe from pollution. Leaving the car at home cuts our exposure to pollution, causes less pollution and gives us a chance to get out into the fresh air.”

Global Action Plan has claimed that the research highlights that there is an “urgent need to provide clear information to bust these misconceptions and enable everyone to protect themselves from the harmful health impact of air pollution.”

Commenting on the research, Nick Watts, director of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, added: “The health impacts of air pollution may have been underestimated, yet again. 21% of respondents living in urban areas, have avoided physical activity due to their concerns about high levels of air pollution. This number is startling given the enormous obesity-related disease burden faced by the NHS.

“When it comes to physical activity, every percentage point counts, and any perceived barrier is cause for great concern. To place this in context, by 2034, over 70% of the population are projected to be overweight or obese, with current trends costing the NHS £10 billion per year, by 2050.”

As part of the National Clean Air Day initiative, a range of events are taking place across the country, organised by local authorities, businesses and community organisations aimed at raising awareness of the effects and causes of air pollution. A range of free-to-use resources are also available to promote National Clean Air Day.

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National Clean Air Day