Campaign launched to clear the air in Liverpool

A public health campaign outlining the steps people can take to mitigate the impact of air pollution is being launched in Liverpool.

Let’s Clear the Air Liverpool outlines the stark health consequences of pollution caused mainly by road traffic in Liverpool.

The latest science suggests that in a city the size of Liverpool, exposure to poor quality air contributes to around 230 deaths each year.

The aim is to raise awareness of the damaging effect of air pollution on health and to advise on actions that we can all take to reduce our personal exposure to air pollution, reduce our personal contribution to air pollution and support actions to improve the quality of the air in the city.

Let’s Clear the Air Liverpool highlights that:

  • Children living in highly polluted areas are four times more likely to have stunted lung development which can affect their health for life
  • People can breathe in twice as much air pollution inside their car than they would do outside
  • Diesel exhausts contain up to 30 times more air pollution than petrol
  • Air pollution can worsen asthma and breathing problems. Long periods of exposure can cause heart disease, strokes and hardening of the arteries and increases the risk of lung cancer.
One of the poster’s from the ‘Let’s Clear the Air Liverpool’ campaign

Dr Sandra Davies, Liverpool’s Director of Public Health, said: “The level of air pollution has a considerable impact on the health of the population of Liverpool.

“Long term exposure to air pollution contributes to deaths from heart disease, stroke and lung diseases, in combination with other risk factors such as smoking.

“It contributes to around 230 deaths per year in Liverpool and while everyone can be affected, children, the elderly and those with heart of lung conditions are most susceptible to harm.

“There is no safe level of air pollution and reduction of pollutants is good for health. People can take steps to reduce their exposure by choosing to walk or cycle away from busier roads.

“Air pollution inside your car can be especially higher especially in slow-moving traffic, so walking can be a good way to reduce your exposure as well as improving your fitness and being good for your wellbeing.”

Advice being given by Liverpool City Council includes:

  • Walk for short journeys when you can. It is also good for your physical and mental health
  • Park away from nurseries and schools when dropping off and picking up your child to reduce air pollution around the school gate
  • Turn off your car engine when it is stationary or parked
  • Leave your car at home when you can and take public transport
  • If you are changing your car, choose a cleaner engine, e.g. hybrid rather than diesel
  • Walk on the inside of the pavement away from traffic to reduce the amount of pollution you breathe in
  • Close windows during rush hour if you live on or close to a busy road

The campaign is being supported by the NHS.

Professor of Child Health at University of Liverpool and Respiratory Consultant at Alder Hey Hospital, Professor Calum Semple, said: “Children are particularly vulnerable because their lungs are still growing, and buggies and prams put young children at the same level as car exhausts.

“Regular exposure can stunt lung development of children and lead to chronic chest problems later in life.”

Dr Gareth Jones, respiratory consultant for adults at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, said: “Air pollution increases the risk of needing to be admitted to hospital with heart and lung conditions.

“The choices we make every day affect how much pollution ends up in the air we breathe.

“While other things such as stopping smoking or being active are crucially important for our health, it is also important that we all play a part in reducing air pollution.

“Improving air quality isn’t an easy task, but if everyone plays their part and makes small changes, we can significantly reduce the amount of harmful chemicals that we are breathing in.

The city council is already working on a number of initiatives to drive a reduction in air pollution, including:

  • Reducing traffic congestion in key areas through the City Centre Connectivity Scheme
  • Improving roads and walkways to encourage people to walk and cycle more
  • Making changes to the council’s fleet to make them greener
  • Working with the taxi trade to reduce emissions by phasing out dirtier engines
  • Working with Merseytravel to put electric and hybrid buses on the most congested routes

Councillor James Noakes, Cabinet member for highways, transport and streetscene, said: “Liverpool’s a growing city and, as with other cities, we have high levels of traffic and it causes 70 percent of the pollution in the city.

“We know we have to lead by example, for example by changing our fleet of vehicles to be greener, encouraging hackney drivers to move over to less polluting vehicles and working with Merseytravel to deliver a better and cleaner bus service.

“We’re looking to reduce traffic congestion in key areas – like the Strand, new Islington and Bowring Park Road by the Rocket – and making improvements to roads and walk ways to encourage people to walk and cycle more. This is just the start of our programme.

“Air pollution crosses council borders, so we’re working with our partners across the city region and have also joined other cities as part of the UK 100 initiative to demand changes fight for those actions that can only be realistically implemented carried out by central government, such as a national scrappage scheme for diesel vehicles.

“We want Liverpool to have the cleanest air because we want people to live longer and poor air quality is impacting on the quality of life for residents.”

More information about the campaign can be found at www.letscleartheairliverpool.co.uk.