Local authorities, businesses and charities across the country are gearing up for the second Clean Air Day, with organisers expecting over 400 events to take place tomorrow (21 June) as part of the initiative.
Clean Air Day, which is coordinated by the behaviour change charity Global Action Plan, aims to build awareness about how air quality affects health, especially in young children and those with heart and lung problems.
This is in light of research suggesting that poor air quality is responsible for as many as 40,000 premature deaths per year in the UK.
As part of the national awareness raising campaign, organisers are highlighting a number of areas where air pollution is causing harm to human health, including in indoor environments (see airqualitynews.com story), as well as publicising actions that members of the public can take to lessen their exposure to pollutants outdoors. Free resources including toolkits and social media guides have been offered to organisations seeking to take part.
Events have also been organised by councils at a local level to mark the day, with initiatives including encouraging sustainable and public transport options, school-focused activities and engagement and promoting walking and cycling.
In Greater Manchester, where Transport for Greater Manchester has organised a series of events across the city region, including free lung-health checks (see airqualitynews.com story) – commuters are being offered free travel on the region’s Metrolink tram network before 7am and after 7pm.
TfGM is also encouraging employers to consider flexible start and end times for their staff so they can take advantage of the free travel offer.
Commenting on the move, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, said: “It’s great to see Metrolink get on board the Clean Air Day campaign with this free travel offer.
“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.
“I encourage drivers to take up this free travel offer on Clean Air Day to see if tram-travel is something that could work for them.â€?
Cheshire West and Chester council is also offering subsidised public transport on Clean Air Day by providing free Park & Ride travel in Chester.
The Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Karen Shore said: “There are lots of simple things we can all do to improve air quality and look after our own and other people’s health.
“Clean Air Day is a chance to find out more about air pollution, share information with friends and colleagues, and help make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone. So, on 21 June leave the car at home – walk, cycle or take public transport instead.
â€?If you’re travelling in Chester, Clean Air Day is an ideal opportunity to try the Park & Ride for free if you’ve never given it a go before.â€?
Southampton city council and the bus operator First Bus are similarly offering 50p bus travel for single journeys in the city, through a ‘Clean Air Day Single ticket’.
In London, local authorities are asking residents to consider how their transport choices can impact air quality in their areas.
Wandsworth council is holding a series of events across the borough, including a string of events in borough schools teaching young people about reducing air pollution.
— Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (@The_CIEH) June 19, 2018
The council’s air quality spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “We strongly support National Clean Air Day because it’s a good way to raise awareness about how the quality of London’s air can be improved. I would urge local people to leave their car at home on Clean Air Day and chat to our officers about the simple steps they can take to reduce their exposure to pollution.
“Meanwhile we will continue to work with our schools to educate our young people and their parents, lobby for cleaner buses, work closely with contractors and do all we can to encourage more sustainable forms of transport.â€?
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 children all brought their own ideas on how to improve air quality to the council chamber,â€? said Councillor Loakes. “They knew absolutely the things that they wanted to see, from more electric vehicle charging points in Waltham Forest, tougher penalties to those idling outside the school gate, more enforcement of the most polluting industries and vehicles in our borough, to adults taking less car journeys and walking around the borough more, especially for the daily school runs.â€?
Clean Air Day campaigning in Scotland is being overseen by the Environmental Protection Scotland charity, with major events having been announced in Glasgow (see airqualitynews.com story) and Edinburgh (see airqualitynews.com story).
Dundee council is also running its own awareness event alongside NHS Tayside to promote
Alan Ross convener of Dundee city council’s community safety and public protection committee said: “There are loads of small changes we can all make that will contribute to cleaner air in our city which when added together make a big difference to raising awareness about Clean Air Day, improving our air quality and with it the quality of our lives.â€?
A number of businesses are also backing Clean Air Day, among them Autogas, Certas Energy and Citipark.
Car parking-operator CitiPark is supporting the day by raising awareness of how electric vehicles can help to reduce air pollution.
As part of its support for this year’s NCAD, earlier this week, CitiPark brought the New Nissan LEAF electric car to the main mall at the Merrion Centre in Leeds, to educate local schoolchildren about the benefits of electric vehicles on our environment.
Alternative fuels provider Certas is calling for businesses to offer their views on alternative fuels and the role they have to play in the UK’s efforts to reduce air pollution.
Clean Air Day