Take a step in the right direction this Clean Air Day

Clean Air Day, celebrated on 20 June 2024, is the UK’s largest campaign on air pollution - acting as a reminder for how air pollution can impact our health.

Take a step in the right direction this Clean Air Day

Air pollution is connected to 43,000 deaths per year in the UK, with The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UK Government recognising it as the largest environmental threat to our health – it can harm every organ in your body, causing heart and lung disease, dementia, and strokes.

You may be exposed to higher levels of air pollution if you live in a town, city, or live near a busy road and some people including children, the elderly, and people with health conditions are more vulnerable to its affects.

Oxford Health are part of the NHS mission to become the world’s first health service to commit to reaching carbon net zero, with one of the targets for the NHS Carbon Footprint to reach net zero by 2040. In 2021, one year after these targets were set, the NHS reduced its emissions to the equivalent of powering 1.1 million homes annually.

Sustainability Manager John Upham said: “Clean Air Day recognises the negative impact air pollution is having on our health.

“Cars and vans are the biggest source of toxic chemicals in our air. At Oxford Health, we are working to reduce our carbon footprint and our green plan includes new initiatives for staff travel. The Trust have trialled electric vehicles (EV) within our community services and installed charging points at Littlemore Mental Health Centre. We have also completed pilots with electric scooters and bicycles. We currently have a successful pilot running with Oxford Bus Company to offer staff 50% off ‘cityzone’ travel to encourage the use of public transport.”

Respiratory and Home Oxygen Service Clinical Lead Carla Goodwin added: “Air pollution is a threat to our health; we need to continue to work together to raise awareness and reduce the levels of air pollution. Any reductions in air pollution we make will lead to health improvements for all in our communities.

“Cleaning up our air and being aware of how we can help reduce the impact of air pollution benefits both our physical and mental health. The physical health impacts of air pollution – such heart and lung disease, dementia, and strokes – have been recognised for decades. More recently, we are understanding how air pollution can affect the brain and the mind.”

Carla shared ways to reduce the impact of pollution on your health:

  • Be more aware of air quality
  • If there are warnings of poor air quality stay indoors
  • Walk and cycle more where possible, especially using the back streets away from polluting traffic. If you are cycling, try to use cycle lanes away from major roads.
  • Where possible avoid being in areas where pollution levels are particularly high
  • Avoid unnecessary burning at home, for example a stove or open fire, unless it is your only source of heat. If you rely on wood for your heating, use ‘ready to burn’ materials such as dry wood or approved manufactured solid fuels, and try to ensure that your appliance is eco-design accredited
  • If you drive, switch your engine off when you’re stationary
  • Make the most of the fresh air and green spaces – opening windows can help reduce the amount of air pollution in your house. If you are worried about the levels of pollution near your home, think about which windows you open – try to open those furthest away from the roads and close your windows during rush hour when the outdoor air pollution is at its worst

Find out more about the Clean Air Day campaign here.

 

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Published: 20 June 2024