Find out how you can take positive action to reduce air pollution in Islington
Air pollution is a killer, an estimated 72 deaths were caused by air pollution in Islington last year. Many areas in the borough exceed legal levels and this has a huge effect on our health. Not only does it cause heart disease, strokes, and dementia, small particles of air pollution have been found in the placenta, causing higher rates of miscarriage, asthma and stunting the growth of children’s lungs by up to 10%. But we can all take positive action to reduce air pollution and protect the health of our families and loved ones.
1. Walk, cycle or scoot short journeys such as trips to the shop, school or visiting friends. 38% of car trips in London are under 2 miles and exhaust emissions from road traffic is the largest source of air pollution in Islington. By swapping short car journeys for active travel you will not only be reducing air pollution but the increased active travel will boost your family’s mental and physical wellbeing, and increasing life expectancy.
2. Indoor pollution. Cooking is a significant contributor of indoor pollution and can be trapped in your home making pollution worse inside than out. Open windows for an hour a day, ideally early morning or evening to release indoor pollution and refresh oxygen levels.
3. Hold a play street. You can apply to Islington Council for your road to be closed temporarily or on a regular day of the week or month. Lots of them are happening around the borough, allowing children to play out and create a community spirit. You can apply for your residential street or even hold a school play street.
4. Avoid barbecuing and using wood stoves. Burning wood and charcoal releases fine particulate matter increasing local air pollution for your family and neighbours. Choose electric BBQs, avoid takeaways that cook on charcoal and remove or don’t install a wood burning stove.
5. Plant trees and greenery. Last year, our campaign Forest for Change saw 200 extra trees planted in Islington. You can ask you local councillors to fund tree planting in your street, replace hard surfaces in your front garden with soil and plants, leave your grass to grow and stay organic by not using any pesticides or weed killers.
6. Choose green delivery companies. Look for local companies offering bike deliveries or check they are using Royal Mail to deliver your parcel to avoid diesel fuelled vans road miles. Make sure your delivery company is environmentally responsible and support local campaigns such as NOcado, a parent-led group campaigning against plans to build a diesel-fuelled depot next to Yerbury School in Islington.
7. Heat your home sustainably. Turn your thermostat down to 18 degrees, replace old boilers, look out for the next solar panel buying scheme from Islington Council or consider installing a heat pump, you can currently get a £5000 grant towards the cost.
8. Start a clean air WhatsApp group for your school, work or street. Talk to your neighbours or other parents about your concerns about clean air, invite them to join you and share information. Together you can make a bigger change whether that’s campaigning for a School Street, traffic reduction planting and looking after local trees, and improving your local environment.
9. Download a copy of the Islington Clean Air Toolkit for Schools. There’s lots of helpful advice and contacts to help reduce air pollution in and around your child’s school. Islington Clean Air Parents worked in partnership with Islington Council to create this practical and easy to use guide to get you started. www.islingtoncleanairparents.uk/toolkit
10. Join Islington Clean Air Parents. Find support from like-minded people and get involved in events and campaigns to improve air quality. Since we started nearly 4 years ago we have held a public Clean Air event at Islington Town Hall, campaigned for School Streets, planted 200 trees in the borough, held clean air play streets, organised regular family walks and are creating a new woodland in the heart of Islington.
You can become a member of Islington Clean Air Parents by signing up for our newsletter. Follow us on twitter, there is a clean air community and lots of helpful information shared. If you’d like to get involved in ICAP please email us firstname.lastname@example.org
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*72 deaths in Islington, figure provided by Simon Birkett, Clean Air in London