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International Day for Clean Air for blue skies

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An image of blue sky with fluffy white clouds

Today (7 September) is the UN’s International Day for Clean Air for blue skies, which aims to raise awareness about the dangers of air pollution and calls upon everyone – from businesses to governments to individuals – to take action to tackle it.

Air pollution has reduced significantly since 2010. Emissions of nitrogen oxides have fallen by 33% and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) has fallen by 9%, but there is still much more to do.

The Independent reports today on nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels, with analysis claiming that NO2 limits were exceeded across 142 local authorities in 2019.

Tackling NO2 emissions is rightly a priority. NO2 is released into the atmosphere when fuels are burned, such as petrol or diesel in a car engine or natural gas in a power station.

The government has committed £3.8 billion to tackle NO2 pollution and clean up transport, including supporting the uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles. £2.4 billion has also been invested through the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy to get more people to travel by bike or on foot.

Working with local authorities

We are working closely with local authorities and have allocated £880 million of funding to help develop and implement local air quality plans. We have also placed legal duties on 62 local authorities in England to tackle their nitrogen dioxide exceedances.

Last week we announced the latest funding round in our Local Air Quality Grant Programme. This means local authorities can bid for a portion of at least £2 million for a range of projects to improve air quality – from testing the effectiveness of filter systems in schools, to raising awareness around domestic burning and the dangers of using coal and wet wood.

Applications for the grant close on 14 October 2020.

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  1. Comment by Roger martin posted on

    Having investigated indoor air quality for the last ten years throughout the UK - we at SAFEAIRQUALITY can confirm that as long as the government continues to obsess about NO2 in the environment and describes PM2.5 as ultra fine particulate matter, then we are really not going to get anywhere near reducing public exposure to poor air quality.
    We spend 90% of our time indoors where we encounter no NO2 and profile particulate hazards in fraction sizes PM0.3 and PM 1.
    I can only assume that blindly continuing to concentrate on these factors related to vehicle emissions allows the government to focus on raising tax revenues by singling motorists out as the great offenders.
    Any sensible air quality control plan that actually intends to reduce exposure to pollution and improve public health would focus on encouraging effective ventilation in our housing stock - presently woefully lacking in such provision leaving us choking on accumulated indoor health hazards in our increasingly air tight homes.
    Endless incentives to insulate - building control ensuring air tightness - leads to increased doeseqse transmission rates, health problems from COPD to Alzheimer’s, asthma to lung cancer...
    So - come on PHE or whatever the new lot are called
    WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!..... indoors