10 steps for Clean Air in London

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Step 1: Investigate

Find out about air pollution near your home, work place or locations you visit

Step 2: Adapt

Protect yourself from the dangers of air pollution

Step 3: Mitigate

Reduce air pollution for yourself and others

  • If possible walk, cycle or take public transport rather than driving in London (and other busy urban areas)
  • If you’re getting a new car buy the cleanest car you can.  Look for the car’s ‘Euro standard’: this is the air pollution standard the car was constructed to meet ranging from ‘Euro 1’ (worst) to ‘Euro 5’ (best).  You can find this in the car’s log book or by searching the Government’s online database
  • Avoid older diesel cars, as they tend to be more polluting than petrol models.  Note: CO2 impact is different
  • Find out about pollution reducing low emission zones in London and other cities around Europe
  • See Clean Air in London’s recommended manifesto for the Mayor to improve air quality, and check out the London Assembly Environment Committee’s report on air quality ‘Every Breath You Take’

Step 4: Research

Find out more about air pollution

  • Find out what your local authority is doing on air quality.  The London Boroughs have a duty to review air quality and declare an Air Quality Management Area where pollution levels exceed set limits. You can:

–          use the map on the UK-Air website to see if your Borough has declared a management area

–          search your Borough’s website to see if it has an Air Quality Action Plan

Here’s an example of a borough air pollution map for nitrogen dioxide

  • Check out Mapping for Change’s tips for using nitrogen dioxide diffusion tubes and mapping results
  • Look at the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Strategy but bear in mind it is not ‘fit for purpose’
  • Check out the latest official advice on the health impacts of poor air quality on the Committee of the Medical Effects of Air Pollution’s website.  You can also see advice from the World Health Organisation
  • Submit good information requests to find out something new about air quality using Freedom of Information/Environmental Information Regulation powers e.g. to your local authority, Transport for London, the Mayor of London, Defra or the Department for Transport. Emphasise your enquiry relates to ‘emissions to the air’.  Use this site for guidance and consult the excellent guidance published by the NCVO.
  • You might decide to start by asking your local authority for information it has gathered from nitrogen dioxide (NO2) diffusion tubes and/or reporting on them.  Read Care4Air’s guide about them.  The NO2 diffusion tubes may help you to identify where air pollution exceeds legal limits. The media has shown interest in such statistics.
  • Why not ask the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs for the top 50 worst locations in your area for annual mean levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) for latest calendar year they hold i.e. specifying you want the latest for your area and the latest year that is equivalent to the information they released to The Sunday Times and was covered by the Mail Online and others?
  • Have a look at the Public Health Outcomes Framework item 3.1 which provides estimates of deaths attributable to long-term exposure to dangerous airborne particles (PM2.5).  The media has shown interest in such statistics.

Step 5: Lobby

Push for full compliance with air quality laws:

  • Email or write to the Prime Minister asking him to chair a monthly steering committee which will ensure full compliance with air quality laws throughout London (and the rest of the UK)
  • Email the following people to (i) tell them you are worried about poor air quality; (ii) ask what they will do to address your specific concerns; (iii) and ask how and when air quality laws will be complied with in full in areas where you live, work or visit:

–          The Rt Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State at Defra (the Government department responsible for the UK’s compliance with air quality laws)
–          The Mayor of London
–          Your London Assembly member
–          Your local Borough Councillors

  • Ask your local MP for help, and monitor what he/she is doing to improve local air quality
  • Ask your MEP for help, and monitor what he/she is doing to improve air quality locally and through legislation in the European Parliament

Step 6: Campaign for effective local action

Arrange a group meeting and/or start a local action group

  • Arrange a group meeting and invite Clean Air in London to speak via its website or Twitter Direct Message.  It should be a club, community group or society meeting or at work and should involve between 20 and 200 people
  • Look at the example of groups such as the Putney Society, who have worked with their local authority, Transport for London and Clean Air in London to push successfully for greater action on local air quality
  • Use social media.  Here’s a great article by Beth Gardiner in the Guardian

Step 7: Oppose

Oppose local developments (e.g. supermarkets) if they will result in breaches of air quality laws

  • The Mayor has stated that he will use his planning powers to make sure that all new development in London is at least ‘air quality neutral’ i.e. it will not result in any adverse impact of air quality.  Make sure this pledge is implemented by carefully examining plans for major developments in your area and opposing them if they will have a negative impact on air quality.  For more details please see the London Plan published by the Mayor in July 2011
  • See Clean Air in London’s research on legal protections but remember it does not provide advice on individual cases

Step 8: Spread the word

Get more people involved in the fight for clean, healthy air

Step 9: Support Clean Air in London

Help us lead the fight for clean air

  • Read ‘About’ Clean Air in London
  • Follow Clean Air in London on Twitter and share its Tweets
  • Like Clean Air in London on Facebook and share its posts

Step 10: Feedback your ideas to Clean Air in London

Give us your ideas

  • Tell Clean Air in London via its website or Twitter if you have any better ideas to achieve urgently and sustainably full compliance with World Health Organisation guidelines for air quality throughout London

Note: Clean Air in London builds public understanding of poor air quality but does not provide advice

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