How to get the public onside in the fight against air pollution
We haven't yet got the public onside in tackling air pollution. More people now know that air pollution kills, however, while the majority of people are concerned about air pollution, less than half know what to do to protect their health and even fewer are actually doing these things.
More people now know that air pollution kills and a growing number also understand that air quality can play a role in all sorts of conditions, from dementia and heart disease to lung cancer and asthma. However, while the majority of people are concerned about air pollution, less than half know what to do to protect their health and even fewer are actually doing these things.
This concern-knowledge gap is worrying. Especially as, according to our research at Global Action Plan, only 16% of the UK public know where to go to for information and advice on air pollution. And this is why this week [26 November] we have launched the Clean Air Hub (cleanairhub.org.uk) to the public.
This online “one-stop shop” aims to fill the gaps in people’s knowledge. It provides accessible, academically robust, guidance on the sources of air pollution, plus simple ways you can reduce it at home and outdoors.
It will also tell you how air pollution affects your health and what you can do to avoid it, with all the technical information on the site signed off by Public Health England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Now we need you to help us fill this concern-knowledge gap. We want the Clean Air Hub to be the reference point for all businesses, local authorities and health services to send the public to for information on air pollution.
By providing this Hub we hope that thousands of organisations will be better equipped to educate the public about air pollution. So please post the link on your website, refer to it in literature and share it with your networks on social media.
Our ambition is that one day the Hub will provide person-to-person advice, on the phone and via email. The more informed people become, the more supportive they will be of clean air policies. The more they understand about the crisis we are experiencing, the more likely they will be to act.
The job now for us sustainability professionals is to ensure the public knows that the Hub exists, how useful it is and how simple to use. Until now there has been no single source of accessible information which people can refer to when looking for answers on air pollution. The Clean Air Hub is a unique and powerful tool for mobilising people to act on air quality. Will you help us spread the word?
Larissa Lockwood is Head of Health and Air Quality at Global Action Plan, the charity behind Clean Air Day and the Clean Air HubGlobal Action Plan