Clean Air Day: 94% want reducing air pollution to be UK “priority”

94% think that reducing air pollution should be a priority for the UK, but only 16% knew where to go to for information.

Professor Stephen Holgate, the leading air pollution academic, Defra and Public Health England have thrown their weight behind a new online “hub” that for the first time pulls together easily accessible public information on air pollution.

The Clean Air Hub, launched as part of the Clean Air Day (20 June) air pollution campaign, is designed as a comprehensive “one-stop shop” that addresses gaps in public understanding of air pollution.

The Hub provides:

  • easy guidance on the sources of air pollution and simple ways to reduce it in the home and outdoors.
  • information on how air pollution affects people’s health and what they can do to protect themselves.

The initiative comes on the heels of recent Opinium research, commissioned for Global Action Plan’s Clean Air Public Insights Tracker, that reveals that 94% of the public think that reducing air pollution should be a priority for the UK, but only 16% knew where to go to for advice on air pollution.

Meanwhile 76% of people surveyed said that they would find more public information campaigns on air pollution helpful, a higher number than for healthy eating (70%), smoking (57%), physical activity (68%) or sexual health (59%).

Air pollution

Air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today, according to the World Health Organisation, and in the UK is responsible for up to 36,000 deaths.

Outdoor sources of air pollution include road transport, energy generation, industry, domestic fires and agriculture. Indoor sources include heating and cooking, and fumes from DIY, cleaning and personal care products.

Professor Stephen Holgate, Medical Research Council Clinical Professor at the University of Southampton, Special Advisor to the Royal College of Physicians on Air Quality and co-Chair of the recently formed RCPCH/RCP Working Party on Indoor Air Pollution and Children’s Health, said: “The Clean Air Hub could not have come sooner – the need for something like this has been glaringly obvious to all of us working on air pollution.

“The risks to our health from air pollution cannot be understated, so making people aware of this and the simple things they can do to protect themselves, is an important part of solving this public health crisis.”

The initiative emerged from Clean Air Day, the UK’s largest air pollution campaign.

The risks to our health from air pollution cannot be understated, so making people aware of this and the simple things they can do to protect themselves, is an important part of solving this public health crisis

Chris Large, Senior Partner at Global Action Plan, the environment charity behind Clean Air Day, said: “We’ve been monitoring public understanding of air pollution for some time, and while it’s been improving, there is no one place people can go to find out how to protect themselves.

“This has now changed with the launch of the Clean Air Hub. Our aim is to make sure nobody is left in a cloud of confusion when it comes to avoiding damage to health and minimising local pollution.

“Thanks to Clean Air Day partners who help us campaign for more to be done about air pollution, we’re now transforming access to helpful information and advice about air pollution with our free online hub – and will continue to do so until no-one in the UK is suffering air pollution that’s above acceptable levels laid down by WHO.”

All the information on the Hub has been reviewed by academics and public health bodies, and is regularly updated. As well as air pollution information and advice aimed at the public, the Hub contains information on initiatives to reduce air pollution from organisations such as hospitals and van fleets, and the latest research into air pollution and its effect on public health.

Dr Karen Exley, Group Leader of Air Quality and Public Health at PHE, said: “Air pollution is associated with a range of health conditions including heart disease, lung cancer and asthma. It’s also costing our health service billions of pounds a year. While the Government is introducing measures to reduce air pollution, individuals have a part to play too, so we wholeheartedly welcome this initiative.”

About Clean Air Day

Clean Air Day is the UK’s biggest air pollution campaign. It’s a chance to find out more about air pollution, share information, and make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone.

Clean Air Day, which this year takes place on 20 June, is coordinated by environment charity Global Action Plan and is supported by more than 200 organisations, including Public Health England, British Heart Foundation, British Cycling, Royal College of Physicians, UNICEF, Asthma UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital and many NHS trusts and local authorities.

Clean Air Day is made possible by the kind support of our Partners Defra, The Clean Breathing Institute, Airtopia, Johnson Matthey, ENGIE, Opinium, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

Easily accessible air pollution guidance found in one place for the first time www.cleanairhub.org.uk

Survey facts:

  • People feel that air pollution has an impact on their health. The majority of people surveyed (83%) felt that their health is impacted by outdoor air pollution (CAPIT, March 2019).
  • There is a high level of public desire for action on air pollution. 94% of respondents think that reducing air pollution should be a priority for the UK, with 83% saying it should be a major (55%) or moderate (28%) priority (CAPIT, March 2019).
  • But the public feel unsupported. Only 16% of people know who they would go to for advice on air pollution, leaving 84% unsure where they would find guidance (CAPIT, December 2018). When given options, 36% of people said they would expect environment groups to give advice (36%), closely followed by their local council (34%) and a government body (32%) (CAPIT, December 2018).
  • And people like a public information campaign on air pollution. 76% of people surveyed said that they would find more public information campaigns on air pollution helpful, a higher number than for healthy eating (70%), smoking (57%), physical activity (68%) or sexual health (59%) (CAPIT, March 2019).

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