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Blog - Clean Air Day 2018

We all have a role to play in improving air quality.  The choices we make about how we travel, the cars we buy and whether to turn our engines off when we’re queueing in traffic all make a difference to the amount of air pollution in Cornwall.

Air pollution is currently the biggest environmental risk to human health in the UK, so it’s really important for all of us to take a hard look at our choices and think about the changes we can make.

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In the UK over 600 Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) have been declared in areas with poor air quality.  Nine of these AQMAs are in Cornwall.  All of the AQMAs have higher levels of nitrogen dioxide gas than they should and vehicles are the main source of nitrogen dioxide. In Cornwall around 40% of nitrogen dioxide is caused by private diesel cars.

So on Clean Air Day on 21 June, I’d like to challenge everyone to think about their travel habits and what they could do differently, even if it’s only on this one day.  Some of the things you might like to try could include:

  • Walking children to school or walking or cycling to work, rather than driving.  You’ll get some exercise as well as cutting pollution.
  • Switching off your car engine when stopping for one minute or more.
  • Burning clean dry wood on your fire or stove to help reduce smoke and particles.
  • Signing up to Car Share Cornwall to save money, congestion and pollution and meet new people.
  • Using the park and ride when travelling into Truro.

And if you feel the time is right for you to look at longer term changes, you might like to consider the type of car you drive.  When I heard about the problems with air quality in Cornwall, the first thing I wanted to do was reduce my own impact.  I decided to change my car for a cleaner model and opted for electric. If you want to find out more about getting an electric or hybrid model have a look at Go Ultra Low. If you’re thinking about a new car but are not ready for an electric or hybrid car, then take a look at the EQUA Air Quality Index to see how your chosen vehicle performs.

To help kick-start us on the road to improving air quality, Cornwall Council is supporting national Clean Air Day on 21 June.  A few of the things we’ll be doing include:

  • Working with town and parish councils to raise awareness of reducing engine idling in St Austell, Camelford and Launceston.
  • Promoting sustainable travel.
  • Working with schools to raise awareness of air pollution amongst children.
  • Asking staff, residents and business to make a pledge to do their bit to improve air quality.

Although Clean Air Day is just one day, it can be the start of a better understanding of how changing our behaviour can improve air quality for everyone in Cornwall.  So take the plunge and make a pledge on our Clean Air Day page.  Air pollution can be reduced if we all do our bit.

Councillor Sue James is the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Public Protection. She first became a councillor in 2007 when elected to St Just-in-Penwith Town Council. In 2013 she was elected to represent the same area on Cornwall Council. She has a passion for the environment which has become stronger since becoming a grandmother almost three years ago.