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Air Quality

Wokingham Air Quality Project

Wokingham’s Air Quality Project is part of the My Journey programme and focuses on improving air quality around the Borough. Working with schools, community groups, and stakeholders, the Air Quality Project will deliver a series of one-off events, active travel initiatives, campaigns and educational resources. The project has been funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and will be managed and delivered by the Eco-Travel Officer, Chloe Ennis. The project is running from October 2020-October 2021 with the aim of increasing active travel and behavioural changes around improving air quality in the Borough.

Air pollution is a local, regional and international problem caused by the emission of pollutants which either directly, or through chemical reactions in the atmosphere, lead to negative impacts on human health and ecosystems.’’ DEFRA, 2020 

What is Air Pollution?

Air pollution is the presence of gases, particles and substances that have been emitted in the atmosphere and that are harmful to the health of humans, other living beings and to the environment; both human (man-made) activities and natural processes can generate air pollution. However, it is usually man-made occurrences that are causing the biggest impact on our air quality and air pollution. Below is a list of the principal pollutants that come from industrial, domestic and transport sources:

  • Sulphur Dioxide
  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Particular Matter (PM10, PM5 and PM1)  
  • Nitrogen Dioxide Ozone and volatile organic compounds
  • Toxic Organic Micro-Pollutants (TOMPS)
  • Benzene
  • 1,3-Butadiene
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Lead and heavy metals

How Air Pollution affects our health and the environment

Air pollution has been suggested to cause up to 40,000 premature deaths in the UK (NHS,2016). Air pollution is a significant risk factor for a number of pollution-related diseases and some of the health problems it can contribute towards are heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases. It has been shown to affect vulnerable people more, such as people with underlying health conditions, people of deprivation, low-middle income homes and BAME communities because of more likely to live in deprived areas nearer to busy roads (WHO,2020 & Guardian,2020). But air pollution can affect everyone and everything. It also has a devastating effect on our environment. This can be polluting and poisoning the soils, waterways, seas and adding to greenhouse gases which heats up our world causing other major climate disasters. For more information about these issues visit the websites below:

How to be a part of positive change for your health, others health and the environment

Outdoors:

  • Learn about Air quality & air pollution and how you contribute to it
  • Choose to walk, cycle or scoot for short journeys & commutes for work/school as well as your daily exercise
  • Ask your employer if they are taking part in the Cycle to Work Scheme
  • Create a better relationship with nature with yourself, friends and family by spending more time outdoors - walking, hiking, visiting nature reserves (see below in family resources which includes great outdoor activities ideas for children)
  • Take part in tree planting in your local area and home:
    1. Woodland Trust
    2. Plant Britain - A goal to plant 750,000 trees one for every UK primary school over a two year period
  • Consider swapping your existing car for low emissions vehicle, electric or petrol and maintain with regular service and checking of tyre pressure - can save money/fuel too
  • If you are driving in your car when waiting in a queue, at a light or pulled up waiting for someone switch your engine off and encourage others to do the same. Let us be Anti-Idling! 
  • Look into car sharing schemes: 
    1. Liftshare
    2. Co-Wheels - serves the Montague Park development in Wokingham

Indoors/Home:

  • Air purifying house plants
  • Get your boiler serviced regularly
  • Conserve energy - switching lights and electrics off when not needed
  • Recycle and use green bins
  • Read the tips to change the way you cook & clean
  • United Nations Environment Programme 

Data & News Resources Links:

  •  Look at the Air Quality Maps from DEFRA or AccuWeather
  •  Follow the Eco Travel Wokingham Twitter account @WokinghamECOTO to see posts on air quality news  
  • In Wokingham we have multiple Air Quality Management Area’s (AQMA). AQMA is an area where air pollution levels have exceeded the national air quality objectives. Air Quality Management Areas 

Further information and resources can be found in the websites below:

Activities & Learnings for families, Schools, Kids and more Resource Links:

Wokingham Air Quality reports

Wokingham Air Quality Survey

We recently ran a survey to ask you:

What do you know about Air Quality? What don't you know? And what do you want to know? 

The results of the survey are now in and you can view the presentation here or read the pdf version which can be found under Related Downloads.