Cleaning up our air

Closeup of little girl blowing blue wind wheel

As well as all the changes we make to what we eat and the amount of exercise we take, there are other factors that can impact on our health.

A key one is the quality of the air that we breathe and poor quality, polluted air can have serious impacts on our health.

Across the UK, air pollution is having a major impact on our health, with poor air quality contributing to 40,000 deaths every year in the UK.

In Derbyshire, poor air quality contributes to around 400 deaths each year.

On 15 June, National Clean Air Day will encourage people to think about making small changes that can improve the quality of the air that we all breathe.

Whether it’s leaving the car at home for the day, walking the kids to school or making longer term changes, there’s lots that we can be doing to improve our air.

  • Air pollution increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and asthma attacks, as well as being associated with dementia.
  • Drivers can be exposed to nine times more air pollution than cyclists because cars gather pollution from the vehicle in front.
  • Air pollution increases the risk of getting lung cancer and contributes to roughly 1 in 13 cases of the disease.
  • Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution. Air pollution is linked to premature births, low birth weight, impaired lung development, asthma and increased hospital admissions.
  • Most of the pollutants that damage our health are too small to see, and they get through the gaps in simple fabric face masks

We all need to be making changes to improve the air we breathe. Some top tips include:

Use your feet, take to the street. Walk, cycle, bus, tube or tram.  However you like to travel, leave your car at home and take to the streets.

Switch your engine off when stationary. By turning off your car engine whenever you’re not moving – and it’s safe to do so – you’ll help to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians.

Drive into the future . More than 80,000 people bought low polluting cars in 2016. When you upgrade your car, why not think about an electric, hybrid or LPG model.

Save your log-burner for the bleak midwinter. We all love wood-burning stoves. But burning wood produces lots of pollutants. To minimise pollution buy a Defra-approved stove, use authorised fuel and only light it when you really have to.

You can download toolkits, get advice on how to reduce pollution and find out more about National Clean Air day at www.cleanairday.org.uk

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