The air you breathe
24 September 2022
By Hayley Carmichael
It is hard to ignore the information that links air pollution to health; and we don’t want to ignore it. We want to take action because the air we breathe matters.
Why is air pollution such a problem?
As populations have grown, so has our use of transport and fossil fuels. This has created air that carries pollutants to a degree never before known. The air we are breathing is literally bad for our health.
Increased levels of air pollution are linked to heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections in children. It aggravates asthma and recent studies have show it could also have neurological implications too.
What can we do?
The easiest thing we can do to impact on air pollution where we live and work, is to choose more active travel. That means walking, cycling or taking public transport to get from A to B instead of driving whenever that is practical and possible.
If driving is unavoidable, then any time you are stationary in the vehicle for more than 30 seconds it is better for you wallet, for the environment and for your health to switch it off.
We can also think about driving e-vehicles which are becoming increasingly more affordable and often are available via employer lease car or salary sacrifice schemes.
The stats speak for themselves
The World Health Organisation have calculated the health costs of air pollution globally:
Worldwide ambient (outdoor rather than indoor) air pollution accounts for:
- 29% of all deaths and disease from lung cancer
- 17% of all deaths and disease from acute lower respiratory infection
- 24% of all deaths from stroke
- 25% of all deaths and disease from ischaemic heart disease
- 43% of all deaths and disease from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Find out more
The Royal College of Physicians have written a hard hitting report called Every Breathe We Take.
10 ways that walking and cycling can reduce air pollution.
This report from the British Lung Foundation highlights the risks of Healthcare Services in areas with high levels of air pollution.
Here’s some great myths busted about idling the car…