On Thursday 21st June, Positively Putney took to Upper Richmond Road outside of Putney Arts Theatre to celebrate Clean Air Day. We shared tips on how we can personally improve air quality and why it matters, whilst making fresh, pedal-powered fruit smoothies.
Air pollution is damaging to our health, however particularly in young children and those with heart and lung problems, it can also cause illness such as heart disease and worsens other illnesses such as asthma. However if more of us take steps to protect ourselves, the better the environment would be for everyone else, which is exactly what Clean Air Day is all about. Some of the simplest tips that we can put into action straight away is walking, cycling or taking public transport instead of driving- our whole community will benefit if we leave our cars at home more often. Causes of outdoor pollution are mainly because of people driving cars (especially diesel), cars not being well maintained (such as tyre pressure not being properly inflated) and emissions from deliveries and open fires. Therefore another top tip is to use quieter streets when you are on a bike or on foot, as this will lower your exposure to air pollution. We must also remember that there is air pollution in our homes, research indicates that the UK population spends up to 90% of its’ time indoors, so we need to make sure that the air is clean. Causes of indoor pollution could be due to heating and cooking, mould found on walls and windows, burning open fires and candles and fumes from cleaning and personal care products. Make sure that you open your window when cooking or using cleaning products and think about keeping dust levels low, using fragrance free products and switch to mild cleaning products (avoiding aerosols).
A recent citizen science survey conducted by Putney Society has released a new snap shot of air pollution in Putney, which found that the majority of locations (15/20) tested, exceed EU recommended safe levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), with levels at seven of the locations more than 20 per cent over the mandatory EU safe level. The tests show there has been a significant reduction in measured NO2 levels since a similar survey was undertaken by the Society in 2016, probably a consequence of TfL’s introduction of cleaner hybrid buses along Putney High Street in early 2017. These results broadly mirror those from Wandsworth Council’s monitoring sites. Within the first eight days of 2016, Putney High Street became the first area in London to breach annual EU NO2 levels and by the end of 2016 there had been nearly 1300 separate breaches of EU air limits. Last year Putney High Street was designated by the Mayor as a bus ‘green’ route and breaches fell to just below 100 incidents. Putney Society’s survey results confirm that while there have been welcome improvements in local air pollution since the 2016 survey, it is still 25% above the EU “safe level”.
Almost two thirds of NO2 in London’s air according to the Mayor’s Office, come from road transport, almost half of that from diesel engines. Both Transport for London (TfL) and Wandsworth Council have introduced a number of policies to attempt to address the problem. These include TfL’s introduction of more hybrid buses and the planned expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) up to the North and South circular roads to reduce pollution to acceptable levels by 2021, while locally Wandsworth Council has developed an air pollution strategy, maintained regular air monitoring in the High Street, lobbied for less polluting buses and restricted day time loading for lorries in Putney High Street.
Robert Arguile, Chair of Putney Society said:
“Our research confirms that, despite very welcome improvements, there are still high levels of NO2 in central Putney. We broadly welcome Mayor Khan’s plan to extend the ULEZ to areas inside the North and South Circulars from 2021 and look forward to the full details.
The proposed ULEZ will need to be tightly controlled. All vehicles breaching EU limits in real road tests, not the laboratory ones, which are too easily cheated, should be banned from the extended ULEZ.”
Thank you to all of those that came to make a smoothie with the Positively Putney BID team on Thursday and made a pledge for Clean Air Day. We were joined by many local businesses including Velo Sport, Cobalt Sky and Yum Sa Restaurant. People pledged what they would personally do to help improve air quality, some of our favourites were to “switch off appliances that are not in use”, “keep my car’s tyre pressure at the correct level” and “cycle to work more often”. Check out the rest of your pledges on our gallery here.
If you would like any more information on Clean Air Day, please visit cleanairday.org.uk. Don’t forget to post any pictures you have from the event using the hashtag #CleanAirDay.
Our Urban Smoothie Bike was sponsored by Wandsworth Council.