The air we breathe
15 June 2018
By Hayley Carmichael
Clean air is fundamental to our health. Air pollution is one of the biggest health threats we face today.
Clean Air Day June 21st
Last year the first ever Clean Air Day launched across the UK. Schools, hospitals, workplaces and individuals all got involved to spread the word; we need to breathe cleaner air.
The problem of air pollution has grown steadily over the past decade. Several leading health bodies came together under the banner of UK Health Alliance on Climate Change to urge the Government to tackle this issue, citing over 40,000 preventable deaths each year as a result of air pollution.
Royal College of Physicians published a hard hitting report called ‘Every breath we take’ on the impact of air pollution on health. Diseases such as asthma, heart conditions and lung conditions are all made worse by poor air quality. Children are particularly vulnerable to the damage it can cause.
These high level calls to action are raising awareness of the importance of taking action now to prevent more ill health in the future but there is a long way to go.
The NHS is battling to deal with the health impacts of air pollution, spending around £20 billion on supporting those with related conditions each year. At the same time though, it’s also a big part of the problem; one in twenty vehicles on the road in England are attributed to NHS related travel.
In ‘Every breath we take’ it clearly states, “Lead by example within the NHS. The health service must no longer be a major polluter; it must lead by example and set the benchmark for clean air and safe workplaces.”
Our support for Clean Air Day is part of our commitment to this call for action. It’s something we’ve been working on for a number of years and last year our work at SCFT featured in the Chief Medical Officer’s report for NHS England, which focused on why we need to tackle this issue, and shared case studies on best practice.
Our Travel Bureau team can help you plan car-free journeys, buy a bike, hire a low carbon lease car or book you a pool car so you can travel to work by other means but still get around during the day. Since setting up the Travel Bureau team we’ve reduced our grey mileage (staff using their own cars for work) by 1 million miles. SCFT staff can find out more here.
What can you do?
We’re asking everyone to avoid driving as much as possible for Clean Air Day. You could:
- Walk to work/school/shopping/socialising
- Cycle to work/school/shopping/socialising
- Take public transport to work and use a pool car for off-site meetings
- Drive to work but use a pool bike for off-site meetings
- Car-share to reduce the number of cars on the road
- Work from home for the day
- Book the day off and go for a nice long walk
- Eco-drive to reduce your emissions (check out our top tips here)
- Make just one of your daily journeys car free
- Use less aerosol based toiletry and cleaning products in the home
- Have more plants in your workspace/home
- Don’t idle the car while waiting in traffic
If you do choose to leave the car at home print out our graphic and display in your car windscreen to show your support for Clean Air Day.
We suggest you sign up for our ‘one less car journey’ dare to help you commit to doing something on the day – you can sign up here – it’s easy and free!
Why it matters
Even a single day of fewer cars on the road helps to reduce air pollution. During the London Marathon this year air pollution dropped a whopping 89% – take action today to feel the benefits today.
Clean air helps us all breathe more easily. We can combat diseases today, to stop them becoming a chronic problem for the NHS in the future.
This will ensure the NHS can cope with future demands on services so that it is there when we need it.