Action we can all take to reduce air pollution

People in North Yorkshire are being offered advice on simple things they can do to make the air cleaner and healthier as part of National Clean Air Day on 15 June.

Clean air in North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire County Council's Local Transport Plan and its Healthy Weight Healthy Lives strategy recognise the importance of clean air and promoting active forms of transport. They identify priorities for improving air quality, including managing the impact of transport on the environment, improving road and transport safety, and promoting walking and cycling.

Five junctions in North Yorkshire have been declared air quality management areas. At each of these, the County Council is working closely with district councils and local people to find solutions specific to each site. This may include encouraging people to change how they travel, but will also look at how changes to the junction or traffic management could help to reduce pollution. For example, this year the County Council has allocated £300,000 to make changes to the Bond End junction in Knaresborough.

Rachel Richards, Consultant in Public Health for the County Council, said: "Air pollution affects everyone. It comes from a range of sources, some nearby, like vehicles, others throughout urban areas and further afield. We are fortunate in North Yorkshire that overall our air quality is good. However, there are some hotspots within the county where more needs to be done to reduce the levels of air pollution."

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, Executive Member for Public Health, added: "Air quality is very much in the spotlight at the moment. There are lots of simple actions that each of us can take to improve air quality and to look after our own and other people's health. We are stronger if we act together to help to improve our local air quality."

Actions to reduce and avoid air pollution include:

  • Walk, cycle or use public transport whenever possible instead of driving. You'll create less pollution, breathe less polluted air and benefit from exercise.
  • Discover side streets: Using quieter streets when on bike or on foot can lower your exposure to air pollution by 20 per cent.
  • Walk on the inside of the pavement rather than close to the kerb to stay as far away as possible from exhaust fumes.
  • Switch off your car engine whenever you're not moving and it's safe to do so. You'll help to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians.
  • If you upgrade your car, consider an electric or LPG model (to save on road tax, too). If you buy a petrol or diesel car, ask about the least polluting model, as they vary enormously.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said: "While only a small number of people live in the pollution hotspots, it is a big issue for them. We need to do everything we reasonably can to reduce traffic-related pollution. For the County Council this can mean better traffic management, but drivers also have their part to play by driving less, using different routes or travelling at less congested times of day."

Find out more about National Clean Air Day online and on Twitter at @nyorkshealth and the hashtag #NationalCleanAirDay.

This story was published 9 June 2017