Brits missing the clear air effect from the first national lockdown

ALMOST two thirds of Brits miss how clear the air was during the first national lockdown, research has revealed.

Between March and June, nitrogen oxide levels in some UK cities fell by around 60 per cent due to less traffic on the roads.

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As a result, a survey of 4,000 UK adults has found 57 per cent now care more about air quality than ever before.

And 62 per cent miss how clean the air was during the first national lockdown.

Almost nine in 10 (86 per cent) of those polled as part of E.ON’s Air Care research, feel air pollution is an issue the British public needs to know more about.

While 68 per cent would do more to help the environment if they had daily reminders about the quality of the air they breathe.

The research also revealed 72 per cent think air quality information is as important as the pollen count in weather forecasts.

In response, energy provider E.ON, working with weather data provider DTN, has launched ‘Change the Weather’, a new service providing air quality information to media so it’s easier to include air pollution levels in daily weather forecasts.

Michael Lewis, chief executive of E.ON UK, said: “No level of air pollution should ever be deemed safe.

“There are many things we can all do to help reduce our impact on the environment and the air we breathe.

CLEAR THE AIR

“From driving less, or driving electric, and making our homes more energy efficient, to powering our homes with renewable electricity.

“Making air quality information more accessible through our ‘Change the Weather’ service is an important step in the right direction and will help ensure this critical topic stays front of mind as we navigate our daily lives.”

As part of its pledge to help clear the air by giving people better access to information on air pollution, E.ON has teamed up with weather broadcaster and meteorologist Clare Nasir to help the nation better understand what the Air Quality Index means, as well as sharing information to help inspire small changes that can make a big impact.

Clare’s daughter, Sienna, developed a persistent cough as a baby and needed to use an asthma inhaler most days as a toddler to keep her airways open and ease the wheezing and coughing whenever they went outdoors and were exposed to high levels of air pollution.

Clare said: “As a meteorologist and clean air campaigner for the last 20 years I know first-hand that air pollution is a public health issue that affects us all, from babies to the fittest adults as well the elderly and vulnerable.

“As a parent, I want my daughter growing up in a world where the air is clean.

“Raising awareness about air pollution and sharing information on how each of us can help reduce the levels of air pollution is vital.”

To find out more and get access to daily air pollution updates, search E.ON Clean Air or click here.

Clare Nasir believes with small changes we can make a big impact, and has revealed tips and facts about air pollution and how you can help to reduce air pollution levels.  

1. Go local. A great way to cut down on car journeys is to start travelling to shops in your local area by walking or cycling. It's cheaper than driving or parking, and not only does it improve local air quality, but it’s great for your mood and physical health.

2. Conserve energy – at home, at work, everywhere. Turn off lights and use energy efficient electric appliances. You can also choose a power supply which is 100 per cent renewable like E.ON, and even consider solar panels for a more sustainable energy option.

3. Avoid burning. Burning solid fuels, such as in open fires and wood-burning stoves has increased over the last decade. It can have a significant impact on air pollution. Avoid burning leaves and rubbish in your garden too.

Tips to stay safe

• Air pollution can vary depending on the weather. Air pollution builds on days when the wind is light, but when the wind picks up it can help to clear the air. In winter, high pressure will keep the air cold and damp air, sometimes even foggy – and this allows pollutants to readily gather. And in summer, on hot days when the air is still, smog thickens. If you have a pollen allergy, the combination of high pollen and air pollution can exacerbate breathing conditions further.

• If smoke from chimneys billows sideways, not upwards, this indicates that the lower atmosphere is trapping the air, or in other words, is forming a lid that doesn’t allow the dirty air to escape into the upper atmosphere. And if the air looks hazy, this could be a sign that smog has formed which can be detrimental to our health.

• Avoid roads surrounded by high buildings. The concentration of pollutants tends to be higher where they are trapped between buildings – even with a breeze air pollution is simply redistributed along the route.

• Avoid exposure during peak traffic times. Congestion can triple during rush hour and with more vehicles on the road, the concentration of pollutants can also increase. To help reduce your exposure to these pollutants, try to stay away from roads during this time or wear a filtered mask when walking alongside traffic.

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