According to the Clean Air Day 2018 campaign, as many as 40,000 deaths annually can be attributed to poor air quality. June 21st is this year’s Clean Air Day, with events going on at schools, businesses and organisations across the country to promote actions that will improve our environment.
How Can You Help Improve Air Quality?
Simple changes you can make range from maintaining your vehicle to reduce emissions, inflate tyres correctly and switch off when stationary to use less fuel, and switching to walking, cycling or public transport. Domestic changes include consuming less gas and electricity overall, composting rather than burning waste, and cutting down on solid fuel burners.
Somerset Scientific Services – Air Quality Monitoring Experts
Somerset Scientific Services contribute to the monitoring of air quality across the UK. We analyse over 600 Nitrogen Dioxide diffusion tubes – small filters that collect microscopic airborne particles – for clients such as councils across Somerset, Bristol, South Gloucester, Stroud, Devon, Worcester, Wiltshire, as well as private air quality consultants.
To carry out this analysis, Somerset Scientific Services are required to participate in proficiency testing schemes such as WASP NO2 PT and AIR NO2 PT and the National Physics Laboratory Performance in AIR NO2 Proficiency Testing Scheme to prove their ability to comply with current laboratory precision and accuracy regulations. We are proud to say we currently hold the top classification within both schemes.
Read more about Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and the damaging impact it has on human health in our May blog.
Legal Air Pollution Requirements
All local authorities in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have a statutory duty to carry out Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) processes. This requires councils to regularly review and assess air quality in their areas, and to determine whether or not their air quality objectives are likely to be achieved. Monthly monitoring is carried out and the annual results are reported to DEFRA.
If any standards are being exceeded or are unlikely to be met by the required date, then that area is designated an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and the local authority must draw up and implement an action plan aimed at reducing levels of the pollutant. Local authorities are required to make copies of their reviews and assessments of local air quality available to the public, as well as any orders designating an AQMA, and to consult locally on the action plan. In many areas, traffic is likely to be the main contributor to excessive levels of pollution. You can see details of Somerset’s AQMAs and the actions being taken to improve them in our previous blog.
How To Protect Yourself From Air Pollution
While work is continuing to reduce air pollution, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself from the effects or poor outdoor air quality. Actually switching from driving to walking or cycling will not just reduce your contribution, but also reduce your exposure. According to cleanairday.org.uk, drivers are exposed to double the pollution that pedestrians experience, and nine times more than cyclists. Taking side streets and other less busy routes can also significantly reduce your exposure to pollutants.
Check pollution levels at the Defra Air Pollution Forecast site, which will help you assess whether it’s a good day to go for a long run or do strenuous outdoor work. While exercise is definitely a good thing overall, there may be days when pre-existing health conditions might be made worse be excessive levels of air pollution. Be informed, and be aware – and find out more about how to reduce your environmental impact at the Clean Air Day website.