National Clean Air Day 16 June 2022

Today (Thursday 16 June) is National Clean Air Day (NCAD) – the UK’s largest air pollution campaign. It brings together schools, communities, businesses, and the health sector to improve public understanding of air pollution and its adverse effects.

Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to our health. It can harm every organ in your body and can shorten our lives, contributing to chronic illnesses such as asthma.

The biggest source of outdoor air pollution is road vehicles and the Clean Air Day campaign aims to encourage us all to help clean the air by taking a number of steps. This year’s campaign focuses on alternative ways to travel other than driving, encouraging us to leave our cars at home and walk, cycle, use a mobility aid if required (i.e. wheelchair/mobility scooter) where possible, or use public transport to work, to school and to the shops.

When walking, cycling, or using a mobility aid (if required such as a wheelchair/mobility scooter), consider using less polluted routes for the benefit of your health and for those accompanying you.

No action is too small to make a difference.

If you’re interested in joining the Greener NCL Staff Network please email zoe.garbett@nhs.net

Short car journeys

If you do own a car, there is lots of advice and tips on how you can reduce your carbon footprint and help deliver cleaner air for all. According to the Hubbub Foundation (an environmental organisation), 50% of car journeys made are under 2 miles. If we all switch to make these short journeys on foot, by bike, using a mobility aid if required (i.e. wheelchair/mobility scooter) where possible, or by public transport, that can have a major impact on the environment as well as improving our health and fitness. Passenger cars produce 55% of transport emissions in the UK, all of which decreases the quality of the air we breathe.

Engine idling

As well as making short journeys by car, leaving a car engine running (engine idling) for more than 2 minutes can have a negative impact on the environment and the air we breathe as well as creating noise pollution. Here are some facts:

  • 1 minute of idling produces more carbon monoxide than the smoke from three packets of cigarettes.
  • Excessive idling can damage a car engine’s components, including spark plugs, cylinders and exhaust systems.  This can be very bad for diesel cars.
  • Due to the recognised impact, engine idling is illegal under Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and could technically lead to a fine.
  • An idling engine can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions as an engine in motion.
  • 10 seconds of idling can burn more fuel than turning off and restarting an engine, leading to increased running costs.
  • The levels of in-car air pollution drivers experience while stuck in traffic jams is 140% worse than it is for pedestrians outside — it is equivalent to passively smoking a couple of cigarettes
Air pollution and asthma

Improving air pollution is also critical for this with asthma. According to the charity Asthma + Lung UK just under two thirds of people with asthma – around 3.3 million people in the UK – are affected by air pollution putting them at risk of having a serious life-threatening asthma attack.

In NCL, we are working across the system to raise awareness about the impact of both indoor and outdoor air pollution for children and young people with asthma and providing information and advice to mitigate.

For best tips on managing asthma when pollution levels are high, visit https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/pollution/#toptips

NCL ICS Green Plan

Improving air pollution by addressing the impact on our environment and reducing our carbon emissions is an essential part of providing high quality, sustainable healthcare for our population and part of the commitment by the ICS to help tackle health inequalities in our local communities. For more information read the NCL ICS Green Plan

Future events

Come to the NCL ICS Climate Café on 21 June at 3.30pm an informal space to ask questions, put forward ideas and learn about our plans. Usually every third Tuesday of the month at 3.30pm initially online via MS Teams: tinyurl.com/rz9a28cz