Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK and harms the health of millions worldwide. The World Health Organisation and the UK Government recognise that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today. Poor air quality causes heart and lung diseases, is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development and may even contribute to mental health issues.
Clean Air Day is led by Global Action Plan and aims to improve public understanding of air pollution both indoors and outdoors.
In 2023 Clean Air Day is Thursday 15 June and the theme this year is ‘Clean up our air to look after your mind’ – highlighting the link between pollution and mental health.
Research shows that there is an association between air pollution and conditions including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. It also leads to a more rapid decline in cognitive function including an increased risk of developing dementia.
One of the main culprits is particulate matter (PM). This is tiny pieces of solid or liquid substances that are inhaled by people as they breathe. These small pollution particles can enter through our lungs, into our bloodstream and reach the brain. When this happens, it can cause inflammation and change the chemistry of our brain, having a negative impact on our mental health. Source: Global Action Plan
Clean Air Day is a chance to find out more about air pollution (including some of the easy things we can all do to tackle it), share information with friends and colleagues, and help make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone.
This year local authorities and groups across Suffolk (organised by Suffolk County Council Public Health team) will be partaking in ‘A mile for my mind’ which will include a ‘flashmob’ 1 mile walk, wheel, scoot or cycle.
A mile for my mind is aiming to break the ‘driving short journeys’ habit by encouraging people to see how easy, cheap and enjoyable making the journey on foot or wheels can be, swapping short journeys by vehicle to more active modes of travel to protect both their physical and mental health from the effects of pollution.
A mile for my mind is being supported by organisations and groups across Suffolk including East Suffolk Council, Ipswich Borough, Babergh and Mid Suffolk, and West Suffolk Councils along with the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, Suffolk Mind, Talk Club Ipswich, Bury Eco Carriers, Future Female Society and the list is growing everyday.
At East Suffolk we will be undertaking our Flashmob 1 mile walk from a number of Council Offices across the District - why don’t you join us and organise your own local 1 mile walk on 15th June?
On average 7% of journeys undertaken by the car driver are 1 mile and under in length, which for many people can be walked wheeled or cycled in under 20 minutes.
If every car journey in Suffolk under 1 mile was walked, wheeled or cycled it would result in over 15 million fewer car journeys per year and over 40,000 car journeys per day.
The benefits of walking, wheeling or scooting that 1 mile are huge: cleaner healthier air and improved fitness, mental health and wellbeing. According to the NHS, walking has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, asthma, and depression.
Stuart Keeble, Director of Public Health for Suffolk County Council and Louise, a Primary Care Lead Nurse, explains all.
For Clean Air day 2022 Global Action Plan have devised a Personal Air Pollution Calculator for you to work out your individual contribution to air pollution in the UK should you wish, and find out what you can do to reduce emissions and protect your health.
The following are some simple ideas we can look at taking to help cut down the pollution we emit;
The Clean Air Hub contains everything you need to know about air pollution and how we can all make changes to improve air quality.
One minute of car idling produces enough toxic emissions to fill 60 people’s lungs – switching off engines when parked is a simple way we can help to clean the air we breathe.
Anti-idling events are a great way to engage with drivers, educate them about the impact of idling on local air quality, and encourage them to switch off their engines. Research has shown that idling events can decrease local air pollution levels in that particular area.
East Suffolk Council has engaged with a number of primary schools over the last few years providing assemblies on air pollution for the children followed by an after school anti-idling leafleting campaign.
The UK population spends up to 90% of its time indoors which means that the air we are most exposed to is inside our buildings. Air pollution inside our buildings can come from many indoor sources, as well as from outside. To help protect your indoor air quality, download and complete the checklist should you wish.
Open fires and wood-burning stoves have risen in popularity in recent years, however many people are unaware that smoke from burning causes harmful air pollution.
This leaflet provides simple guidance for those that need to use wood burning stoves or open fires on how to reduce environmental and health impacts, as well as: