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Poor air quality - why do we not take action?
30 Oct 2018 23:07 #4163

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author

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This last weekend (27/28 October 2018) the Guardian newspaper carried yet another article on the poor air quality in towns and cities, this time written by the director general of the World Health Organistion. I quote from the article: "I am excited and honoured that, in less than a week, the WHO will host the first global conference on air pollution and health, ..............". About time we might think, but given that thousands upon thousands, probably millions, of people buy and drive diesel cars in a context where the dangers are widely understood the public can hardly complain. Which begs the question: "Why don't people agitate for cleaner engines or good alternatives, or choose public transport in towns and cities?" They'd very soon agitate if people were being shot.

I have always thought that the answer is love, and habit; many, many people can no longer imagine walking or cycling, or standing at a bus stop in the rain. But I think it would helpful to ask drivers why they ignore the danger (air quality is generally very much worse inside vehicles than in the open) for both themselves and those of us who don't drive a diesel vehicle.

In the meantime what is government at all levels up to? If I went out on the streets doing something antisocial other than driving diesel vehicles I'd very soon be told to stop it. Well, or course I know the answer: this is not something which makes everyone ill or curtails their life, nor is it something the public doesn't like. Nevertheless it is something everyone should be concerned about because it is dangerous.

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Poor air quality - why do we not take action?
31 Oct 2018 15:25 #4164

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The front page of today's i newspaper hammers home the points David has raised. The headlines:
  • Scientists confirm that air pollution in the UK is a major cause of heart attacks and strokes
  • Medical experts demand tough laws to crack down on particulates emitted by vehicles and industry
  • World Healtch Organisation warns average air quality breaches safety limits, putting millions of Britons at risk]

  • The full report is at inews.co.uk/news/health/scientists-confirm-for-the-first-time-that-air-pollution-causes-heart-disease-and-stroke/

    So what to do about it? An obvious step is to drive as little as possible. Doing so will not only help reduce air pollution, but will reduce your own personal exposure because levels of toxic pollutants are actually higher inside cars than outside - so walk, ride a bike or use public transport. And the fewer cars on the road, the less congestion and the less pollution from congested traffic.

    It's a disgrace that yesterday's budget is actually likely to increase air pollution. It will encourage driving (fuel tax freeze), road building (also encouraging driving, but also creating air pollution in itself) and does nothing to solve big cuts in bus services outside London.

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Poor air quality - why do we not take action?
31 Oct 2018 19:46 #4167

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It is possible to measure and report air quality in real time as I do.

I am retired guy who has set up a self funded air quality sensor linked into the airvisual network. My sensor reports data in real time and this information has been freely available since August 2017.

Here is a link: www.airvisual.com/uk/england/orpington/orpington-town-centre

Is it part of a wider network on sensors provided by local authorities plus concerned individuals like myself.
There are approx 10,000 sensors world wide. They do not cost a fortune to set up and if you are interested let me know.

Let me stress I am a private individual and not paid to promote airvisual, I just passionately believe that people have the right to clean air and would like people to know it is not that difficult or expensive to collect and publish the data!

Regards, Tim

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Poor air quality - why do we not take action?
15 Dec 2018 22:11 #4301

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author

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Recent work in Leeds supports investment in cycle lanes as a means of reducing air pollution for cyclists; well done Enfield Council. And, as a recent article in The Guardian about the work in Leeds puts it: “People in cars and buses spend longer (than cyclists) in toxic air, as do walkers unless they make detours to avoid main roads.”

There was much else in the article affirming and reaffirming the benefits of cycling, but as most of it has been covered elsewhere on this website I won’t labour the issue. However, the article made much of an issue which is perfectly obvious, but I’ve tended to ignore: in urban areas the time spent travelling makes a significant difference to the amount of pollution you inhale. Which is why walking comes out relatively badly, but cycling in general, and especially cycling on a cycle lane, benefits most because its faster and congestion is avoided. Apparently being even a metre or so from congestion cuts down the number of particles by a quarter.

Another fact from the article: 40% of car journeys in England are less than two miles, roughly three kilometres, so there is huge scope for increasing walking and cycling. Which of course local campaigners have always suspected.

Here’s another gem of information from the article I didn’t know or have forgotten - Government has lost three times in the high court over air quality issues. How’s that for good governance?

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