Clean Air Day
Clean up our air to look after your mind this Clean Air Day.
Clean Air Day
Clean Air Day, the UK’s largest campaign on air pollution, is happening on Thursday 15 June.
However, at Mid Yorkshire we’d like to go further than a day – a week, a month or even a year!
Cleaning up our air is good for us in many ways: it not only benefits our physical health and the environment but can also protect our mental and brain health. The physical health impacts of air pollution – such as asthma, heart disease and cancers – have been recognised for decades. More recently, researchers are beginning to understand how air pollution can affect the brain and the mind.
People who breathe polluted air are more likely to develop mental health and brain conditions. Being exposed to air pollution is linked to mental health and brain conditions such as depression, anxiety and dementia. When a person breathes polluted air, small pollution particles can enter through the lungs, into the blood stream and can reach the brain.
For Clean Air Day we would like to encourage you to:
- Learn: find out more about how air pollution impacts our mental, physical and planet’s health.
- Act: walk, wheel or use public transport to reduce your exposure and contribution to air pollution. If you drive, try leaving the car behind on Clean Air Day and one day every week.
- Ask: get in touch with your local councillor to ask them to support clean air measures that make it easier for you to breathe clean air.
What are the impacts of air pollution?
- According to Public Health England, long-term exposure to air pollution contributes to around 40,000 premature deaths annually in the UK.
- Air pollution is associated with a range of health issues, including respiratory diseases (such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/COPD), cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, and adverse birth outcomes.
- Children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of air pollution.
Particulate matter (PM2.5)
- PM2.5 refers to fine particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or smaller, which can penetrate deep into the respiratory system.
- The UK consistently exceeds the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for PM2.5. An estimated 90% of the population live in areas exceeding the WHO recommended limit (10 micrograms per cubic meter) for PM2.5 levels.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
- Traffic emissions, particularly from diesel vehicles, are a major source of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in urban areas.
- High levels of NO2 can cause respiratory problems, inflame airways, and increase the risk of respiratory infections.
- In recent times, around 80% of reporting zones in the UK exceeded the annual legal limit for NO2 set by the EU, primarily due to road transport emissions.
Impact on children
- Air pollution can have significant detrimental effects on children's health and development.
- Studies have linked exposure to air pollution during childhood to impaired lung function, increased risk of respiratory infections, and adverse cognitive development.
- Air pollution imposes a substantial economic burden on the UK.
- The Royal College of Physicians estimated that the health costs associated with outdoor air pollution in the UK amount to approximately £20 billion per year, including healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Climate change and air quality
- Addressing air pollution is crucial for mitigating climate change.
- Many air pollutants, such as black carbon and certain greenhouse gases, contribute to both climate change and poor air quality.
- Transitioning to cleaner and greener modes of transportation, such as active travel or electric vehicles, can help reduce air pollution and combat climate change simultaneously.
What can I do to help reduce air pollution?
There are many things we can all do to help reduce air pollution. However, we have highlighted some of the key actions you can take to make a positive impact on local air quality and our wider environment.
Turn off the engine of you vehicle when stationary. Turning off engines when parked up can have a huge impact on reducing air pollution effects.
Make a modal shift
Try and choose greener modes of transportation to reduce air pollution and carbon impacts. For example, could you switch from a petrol vehicle to an electric one?
Benefits for your health
Can you switch to active travel, such as walking, running or cycling? Or use public transport, such as the train or bus? Promoting increased physical activity is key to contributing to improved overall health.
Act more sustainability
Help to create a cleaner and greener future for our communities by making a conscious effort to be more sustainable in your day-to-day lives.
Find out more on the Clean Air Hub
Find out everything you need to know about Clean Air Day in one place on the dedicated Clean Air Hub.
Clean air information - Learn more about what air pollution is, how it affects your health what you can do to protect yourself and others.
Frequently asked questions - Find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about air pollution.
Forecasts - Knowing more about the air pollution in your area can help you to make decisions on how to reduce your exposure, and some of the best UK information has been collected together in one place for you.
Clean air calculator - Take the short quiz and get your personal pollution footprint results and compare them to the national average.
Clean air planner - Get your personalised clean air action plan to help reduce your exposure to air pollution.
Take action - Find out how you can make a difference this Clean Air Day.
How do I get involved?
As part of Clean Air Day, we would encourage you to get involved and participate in activities that have a positive impact on the environment.
- Make a pledge – pledge to act on air pollution by modal shift (changing the way you travel) and reducing your carbon footprint. This could include commitments such as using active travel (cycling, walking, running) for commuting, using public transport, utilising the Trust’s inter-site shuttle bus service, carpooling, or reducing unnecessary car trips. See below for more details.
- Track your travel – use an app or website to track your active travel or sustainable commute activities. For example, this could include tracking the number of miles you have cycled, walked or ran instead of using a car.
- Workplace competitions and challenges – why not organise friendly competitions or challenges to engage colleagues and promote active travel. For example, a ‘green commute challenge’ to see who can accumulate the most sustainable commuting miles during a set period.
- Share your stories - share your personal experiences, challenges, and success stories with others regarding how you have changed the way you travel or how you have used sustainable travel options. This can really inspire and motivate others to get involved.
Make a pledge
Pledge to act on air pollution for Clean Air Day. Download a pledge card from the Clean Air Day website.
Pledges you could consider making include:
- To learn more about air pollution on Clean Air Day.
- To walk, wheel or use public transport to school or work on Clean Air Day.
- To ask my local councillor to support clean air measures on Clean Air Day.
- To leave the car at home on Clean Air Day.
- To work from home on Clean Air Day.
- To join a car club on Clean Air Day.
- To consider hiring an electric car or electric taxi on Clean Air Day.
- To switch off my engine on Clean Air Day.
- To avoid using wood burning stoves and open fires on Clean Air Day.
Take a photo of yourself with your pledge and post it on social media using the hashtag #CleanAirDay.
Useful information and resources
Action for Clean Air - organisers of National Clean Air Day, an annual event in the UK dedicated to raising awareness about air pollution, its health impacts, and the actions individuals and communities can take to improve air quality.
Sustrans - a leading charity that promotes active travel, including walking, cycling, and scooting, as a sustainable mode of transportation.
Living Streets - a national charity dedicated to creating safe and attractive walking environments, making walking a more enjoyable and accessible mode of transport.
CycleStreets - a service that specialises in providing cycling-related information, such as journey planning, route mapping, and cycling infrastructure details.
Energy Saving Trust - provides guidance and information on sustainable transportation, including electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure.