Air Pollution has been recognised as one of the biggest environmental health risks facing humans. In fact 9 out of 10 people across the world live in a place where air quality exceeds the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) guidelines. Many sources of air pollution also contribute to carbon emissions, so reducing air pollution has clear benefits for health, wellbeing and the environment.
Clean Air Day is the UK’s largest campaign on air pollution. For 2022, this is being held on 16th June and the theme is “Air pollution dirties every organ in your body. Take steps to improve your health this Clean Air Day.”
Despite the scale of the challenge, steps can be taken to improve air quality. The Clean Air Day initiative advises that 90% now report doing at least one thing to help reduce outdoor air pollution, and there is much more we can do together to address this.
What University of Reading is doing
The University has long been supporting initiatives to improve air quality and has signed up as an official Clean Air Day supporter. Project researchers at the University are involved in the ‘Cleaner Air for Reading Schools’ initiative, conducting research to help equip children, parents and teachers to choose safer routes to school, avoiding areas with the highest levels of pollution. See our researchers’ poster and article about this which includes a free downloadable toolkit about this issue and steps you can take to reduce health damage.
With road traffic being one of the leading causes of air pollution, we also have a number of initiatives to support staff and students to use more sustainable transport when travelling to the University. These include:
- Support for walking and cycling – we provide secure cycle parking compounds, showers, cycle skills courses, bicycle maintenance opportunities and also have a programme of route improvements on Whiteknights Campus to allow more room for pedestrians and cyclists to share the space safely.
- Public transport – discounts are available on public transport to the University for staff and students.
- Lift sharing initiative – we are launching a lift sharing initiative via our online engagement platform ‘Doing #UoR Bit’ – look out for more on this coming soon!
What you can do
We can all take steps to minimise air pollution to help reduce the health risks for everyone. Here are some ideas of things you can do:
- Calculate your own personal air pollution footprint to find out how you impact the air quality around you and what you can do to reduce your contribution using the Clean Air Hub’s air pollution calculator.
- Join our ‘Doing #UoR Bit’ platform and complete the air quality quiz activity to learn more and earn points.
- Walk or cycle for shorter journeys – this is great exercise too!
- Use public transport for longer journeys wherever possible.
- Stop idling your car engine – turn your car engine off when stationary and it is safe to do so.
- Adopt good driving practices – avoid heavy breaking and acceleration, maintain good tyre pressure, use a higher gear, and minimise using the air conditioning etc.
- Visit the Clean Air Day Hub to learn more about air pollution.
- Contact your local councillor about your suggestions for making walking and cycling easier and safer in your local area to increase uptake – see the Clean Air Day letter template for help.
- Avoid non-essential deliveries to your home, and consolidate those deliveries you really need to reduce the number.
- Avoid using open fires and stoves.
- Spread the word – talk to others about the harms of air pollution and share with them information on steps we can all take to reduce this.