It’s Clean Air Day on Thursday 16th June. To celebrate this important day, we’ve launched a #PMTennis campaign to spread awareness of the causes of air pollution, the impact on public health, and the steps we can take to improve it.
What is Clean Air Day?
Led by Global Action plan, Clean Air Day is the largest air pollution campaign in the UK, aiming to improve public awareness and understanding of air pollution. Air pollution is one of the largest environmental health risks that we face today and is one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally.
The #PMTennis campaign focuses on Particulate Matter 10 (PM10), a major factor of air pollution. Often catalogued as ‘floating dust’, this is particulate matter with a diameter equal to or smaller than 10 micrometres. Composed of numerous inorganic ions, including nitrate, sulphate, and ammonium, PM10 poses a number of serious health issues by penetrating the lungs and entering the bloodstream.
Air Quality Guidelines
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released updated Air Quality Guidelines in September last year, with a number of key changes:
- PM2.5 should not exceed 5 micrograms per cubic metre (reduced from 10 µg/m3)
- PM10 should not exceed 10 micrograms per cubic metre (reduced from 20 µg/m3)
- Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations should not exceed 10 micrograms per cubic metre (reduced from 40 µg/m3)
Air Pollution Facts
- In 2019, 99% of the world population lived in areas where air quality guidelines levels were not met (World Health Organisation, 2022)
- There are 648 Air Quality Management Areas in the UK (Defra, 2022)
- Air Pollution costs the UK economy £9-19 billion a year (Defra, 2022)
- During COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, levels of Nitrogen Dioxide dropped by a daily average of approximately 40% at roadside in Central London, 47% on Oxford Street and 48% on Marylebone Road (Greater London Authority, 2022)
- Air pollution in cities and rural areas caused c.4.2 million premature deaths worldwide in 2016 (World Health Organisation, 2022)
- NOx, PM10 and PM2.5 emissions have fallen by 76%, 65%, and 67% respectively between 1990 and 2020 (National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, 2022)
- It is estimated that between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year are attributed to air pollution (Gov.uk, Public Health England, 2022)
How can we reduce PM10 and air pollution?
The transition to renewable energy is often cited as the main solution to air pollution. The use of wind, solar and geothermal energy plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.
The creation of energy-efficient buildings is also a vital factor, with ‘Green Building’ an increasingly popular choice. From planning to occupancy, Green Building establishes environmentally responsible and resource-efficient structures, that reduce negative impacts on the environment, by using less water, energy, or natural resources.
Open burning is a large source of PM10, with landscaping debris, household rubbish and demolition debris associated with this issue. Composting, mulching, and natural decomposition are all recommended alternatives.
Finally, reducing individual exposure to air pollution is recommended. This includes reducing car travel, eating local and organic produce, and avoiding walking near busy roads and motorways. To help with this behaviour change, the Government are starting to implement proactive measures, including driving and parking restrictions and low emission zones or clean air zones.
- Majority of the World is Breathing Poor-quality Air (WHO)
- Global Action Plan: Clean Air Day
- WHO: How air pollution is destroying our health
- WHO global air quality guidelines
- Defra: Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs)
- Defra: Air Quality: Public Health Impacts and Local Actions
- GLA - Dramatic improvements in air quality on London’s roads
- National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory: About Nitrogen Oxides
- Public Health England publishes air pollution evidence review