Merton residents are being called on to help tackle poor air quality in the borough.
To mark Clean Air Day 2022 on Thursday 16 June, Merton Council is urging people to leave their cars at home and make journeys on foot or bicycle instead. As well as helping to clean up the air, it will also give people a chance to improve their health through physical activity.
The Council has pledged to create a cleaner, greener Merton and this includes the installation of new air-quality sensors in priority locations around the borough to help understand pollution in the worst-affected parts of the borough. We have also introduced schemes such as School Streets, where there are temporary restrictions for motorised vehicles near schools at drop-off and pick-up improve safety and to protect children from car fumes during periods of pick-up and drop-off. There are now 29 Schools Streets and four low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).
Air pollution is known to cause or make worse a range of health conditions including lung disease, heart disease and cancer. Vulnerable groups include children along with pregnant people, older people and people with lung conditions such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
To protect yourself from the impacts of air pollution, you can take less polluted routes and avoid walking along the busiest roads. Choose ways to get to your destination that use quieter streets, trips through parks and other green spaces or pedestrianised areas.
Air pollution concentrates around the busiest roads and getting even a short distance away from them can make a big difference. Quieter roads have been shown to reduce your exposure to pollution. Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK.
Councillor Peter McCabe, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: “Cleaner air benefits us all because air pollution is extremely hazardous to the health of many people, particularly children, pregnant people, older people and people with lung conditions.
“As a council we have already committed to cleaning up the borough’s air by installing air quality monitors to help us identify those areas most at risk.
“You might ask how you can do your bit or what difference it will make. It could be as simple as choosing to walk, cycle or use public transport instead of your car, particularly when it’s a short journey. If we all make these small changes it can make a big difference to the quality of the air we breathe.”
Clean Air Day is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign, bringing together communities, businesses, schools and the health sector.
For more information:
Find out more about air pollution via Global Action Plan’s Clean Air Hub website.
The UK government makes air quality forecasts available (a bit like a weather forecast) where you can see the latest air pollution levels for your area on a map for the next three days.
Merton Council has also produced its own Air Quality Action Plan and Annual Status Report.
Here are some top tips on how to protect yourself and your family when you’re out and about.