Regular updates from our Digital Content Executive, Sam Cleal


10 Interesting Facts About Air Quality

17 March 2017

10 interesting facts

This month’s forum on tackling air pollution and improving air quality, hosted by Inside Government, proved to be very eye-opening. While the subject of air quality is high on the agenda for politicians, local councils, charities and the general public alike, it’s often a technical issue. So, if you’re not an expert like the Inside Government speakers, you might not know these 10 interesting facts about air quality in the UK.

  • Air pollution takes an average of 6 months off of everybody’s life expectancy, according to a report by COMEAP.
  • There are now 300 charging points for electric cars in Greater Manchester.
  • National Clean Air Day will take place for the first time ever on 15th June this year.
  • Green walls are the technical term for walls covered in plant life. They are “living walls” or “vertical gardens”, complete with a growing medium like soil and may be found indoors or outdoors. Green walls regulate the temperature of buildings, purify water and improve air quality.
  • The City of London, together with King’s College London, have developed the City Air App, which suggests cleaner and less polluted journeys to work for London citizens.
  • Bus and taxi drivers are thought to be 3x more at risk of death from illnesses caused by air pollution, says Birmingham City Council. This is because of excessive exposure to emissions during long shifts on the road.
  • The Greater London Authority has given that all new London black cabs must be zero-emission capable from 2016
  • As our CEO Anne Godfrey points out, our consumer behavior, as customers of Uber cabs, Amazon Prime and Ocado, contribute to air pollution in cities and towns alike
  • A baby born in London in 2010 who is exposed to the same level of air pollution for its entire life would lose 2.2 years (male) and 2 years (female) from its total life expectancy, according to Elliott Treherne of Greater London Authority.
  • The UK’s first 100% electric double-decker bus was introduced in 2014 by City of York Council.

    Tackling Air Pollution and Improving Air Quality 

    02 March 2017


    “Clean air now” was the message of last week's forum: Tackling Air Pollution and Improving Air Quality. Hosted by Inside Government, the event pulled together major stakeholders in the industry to discuss the progress they had each made in curtailing air pollution and improving air quality across the British Isles.

    Traffic was the chief offender, which will hardly surprise anybody. From York to London, councils everywhere, charities and politicians are attempting to change the way we travel so as to minimise diesel emissions. Matthew O’Neill, Lead Air Quality Officer at Transport for Greater Manchester, spoke about plans to revolution Oxford Road - a main corridor in Manchester’s central business district - with ‘Dutch style’ cycle lanes and restrictions on general traffic flow. Similarly, Ruth Calderwood, Air Quality Manager for City of London, praised the work of her team in developing safer ways for commuters to travel and reducing cars idling.

    One recurrent topic was deliveries. We uber now and order from Amazon Prime and Ocado at the drop of a hat, said Anne Godfrey: this behaviour can be selfish. This point was revisited by David Harris, Transport Policy Manager for Birmingham City Council who also informed us that nearly 900 deaths are attributable to bad health caused by air pollution in Birmingham alone per year. We need to pull together on this issue, said David; it’s about bringing the community together and calling for Government funding to be clearer and more targeted.

    Also an advocate of lobbying The Government was Matthew Pennycook, MP and member of the All Party Parliamentary Group. Matthew highlighted the argument that air quality was an issue of environmental injustice, a sentiment echoed by Dr Sotiris Vardoulakis of Public Health England and shared by many a councillor sitting in the audience. Those living in deprived areas are at a much larger risk of ill health caused by bad air, Sotiris continued, including respiratory issues like asthma and cardiovascular diseases.

    The event was an eye-opening insight into the amazing work being done by organisations like City of London, ClientEarth and Global Action Plan; but it was also a chance to advocate for more change. Using Brexit as a platform, Anne Godfrey commented, we can achieve something higher [than the EU set limits for air pollution]. While local authorities have been integral in advancing change, The Government still needs to draw up a new national air quality strategy that tightens objectives, encourages sustainable transport and draws together relevant Government departments to improve poor air quality.

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