‘Clearing the Air’ about pollution in Kingston on Clean Air Day

‘Clearing the Air’ about pollution in Kingston on Clean Air Day

On National Clean Air Day (21 June), Kingston Council will launch its Annual Public Health Report, which this year focuses on the impact poor air quality is having on our health.

Titled ‘Clearing the Air’, the report aims to make clear where air pollution comes from, the effects on Kingston’s health and the things we can all do to lessen the impact.

Councillor Liz Green, Leader of Kingston Council said: “Improving air quality and reducing the health problems associated with it is a key commitment of the council’s new administration. We dedicated a whole section in our manifesto to ‘air safe to breathe’ with details of some of the measures we will introduce such as planting at least 2,000 trees, installing more electric charging points and lobbying the Mayor of London for cleaner buses.”

Kingston Council’s Director of Public Health, Iona Lidington said: “Air pollution is the biggest environmental cause of ill-health in the UK. In Kingston it is estimated to contribute to the equivalent of one in twenty deaths for people who live in the area. We really need to improve people’s awareness and understanding of air pollution if we’re to change behaviours.”

In a series of recent polls conducted by the council leading up to the launch, 85 percent of respondents correctly identified road traffic as the biggest source of pollution in the borough. It’s a fact that 58 percent of harmful nitrogen oxide emissions produced in Kingston come from motorised road traffic.

The majority of respondents got it wrong however, when it came to exposure to pollution. 71 percent of respondents thought pedestrians were exposed to higher concentrations of pollution than drivers when actually the opposite is true.

Iona Lidington said: “People in cars are exposed to higher concentrations of air pollution than people who walk. Pedestrians and cyclists can reduce their exposure further by taking lower pollution routes on side streets. Walking or cycling are also great ways to get active, which is also good for our health. According to research, even in the most polluted city in Europe, you'd have to walk for 13 hours (per day) before the harm from air pollution outweighed the benefit of additional exercise.

“It’s clear that ditching the car really is better for everyone’s health. This year’s report sets out what the council is doing, together with our partners like Kingston University and local businesses, to promote walking and cycling in the borough.

“Reducing the impact of pollution is a collective challenge and our report calls on residents, businesses, developers, headteachers and others, to change one thing to help clean up Kingston’s air.”

The Leader added: “We are very pleased that this year Public Health Annual Report centres around improving air quality. We know that residents are concerned but don’t always have all the details and don’t know some of the simple actions they can take to reduce harmful emissions. Others will also have ideas, so we are inviting the community to be a part of our launch event and to tell us what they think will work. We need everyone on board if we’re going to make a difference.”

Get a copy of the report

Residents with an interest in air quality are welcome to attend the ‘Clearing the Air’ launch event at 9am on Thursday 21 June at Kingston University.  They can pick up a copy of the report and take part in a workshop with local employers, educators, business leaders, health services and councillors to help develop proposals for making our air cleaner. To register your interest search for ‘Air Quality in Kingston Annual Public Health Report Launch and Workshop’ on Eventbrite.

View the interactive digital version of the report.

Download a PDF copy of the report.