Thursday, 8 October 2020

National Clean Air Day 2020

Another week, another National Day, this time a day for all things clean air, particulate free, fresh, and fragrant. Actually not fragrant, or not necessarily. Just clean and healthy. Because today is National Clean Air Day 2020.

Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK. At least 30,000 deaths are linked annually to air pollution. It's especially bad around schools, where the tiny toxic particles (PM2.5s) combine with Nitrogen Dioxide and other gases to form a potentially deadly chemical cocktail for our children. 

It used to be thought that the the brain stem kept such particulates in the blood at bay, preventing them from reaching the brain. Used to be. Some of these particles are 40x thinner than a human hair, a fact that it has now been confirmed sees them damaging not only our heart and lungs but our brains as well. 

Lockdown led to a widespread improvement in air quality. Fewer cars and lorries led to all sorts of wonderful gains, like an estimated 11,000 fewer dirty air-related deaths. That's quite something. It'd be a shame if such advances were lost in the return to 'normal' (whatever that means). 

And they needn't be. It needn't take much. You don't have to swap your car for a bike (yet)... just turn the bloody engine off when you're parked at the school gates waiting for the bell. Just get your shiny fleet of diesel-engined minibuses (Lincolnshire County Council, I'm talking to YOU!) not to sit belching out exhaust fumes for anything up to half an hour while they wait for their passengers to embark. It's not rocket science. (Which is a good job, as rocket - and aircraft fuel - aren't exactly guilt-free either!) 

I've written to the aforementioned County Council about the aforementioned mini-buses and copied in my local MP. And I've heard nothing. 

Never mind, I'm not about to give up any time soon. After all, this is a real and important health benefit everyone can help achieve. And, if you want to join in, CleanAirDay.org has a range of resources and online activities to help and inspire. 

We can all do something. It could be as simple as writing a letter to your local council and MP.

Just don't hold your breath waiting for a reply...





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