A new campaign has been launched in Sheffield this week to raise awareness about air pollution.
The “Air Aware in Sheffield” campaign aims to inform members of the public about the different types of air pollution and the health risks associated with them, as well as giving people information on what they can do to help reduce air pollution in the city.
It is also intended that Air Aware in Sheffield, which will primarily focus on the biggest single source of air pollution – road traffic – will act as a platform to spark debate about air quality.
Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for environment, recycling and streetscene at Sheffield City Council, said: “The key point here is that small changes can really reduce air pollution and enable better health for all.
“Air quality is an absolutely vital issue for all of us here in Sheffield. Regardless of where people live in the city, or whether they are drivers, cyclists, walkers or bus users, each and every one of us can play an important part.
“We’re not telling people to give up their vehicles – but what we are saying is if you have to drive, think about driving low emission vehicles such as gas, electric or hybrid cars or petrol cars instead of diesel. Also try ‘eco-driving’ techniques and think about ‘car sharing’, both of which will save you money on fuel, as well reducing emissions and improving air quality.
“It would be great if everybody could use their cars a little less, and cycle or walk a little more. Even giving up the car just one day a week would make a huge difference.”
The campaign aims to raise particular awareness about two air pollutants; nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM10), which mainly come from road traffic.
Poor air quality has been estimated to account for up to 500 premature deaths per year in Sheffield, with health costs of around £160m per year. It has short and long-term health impacts, particularly for respiratory and cardiovascular health.
Those people who are particularly sensitive and are exposed to the highest levels of pollution have an estimated reduction in life expectancy by as much as nine years.
Like many other major UK cities, in some parts of Sheffield both national and European Union health based thresholds for air quality are currently being breached.
A lot of work is already being done to try and address this problem. This includes working with local community action groups across the city involved in campaigning for cleaner air, working to our Air Quality Action Plan and developing plans to implement a Low Emission Zone Strategy in Sheffield by working with partners such as the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), local bus operators, local taxi operators and local commercial fleet operators to reduce emissions.
However, the support of each and every person in the city would go a huge way to helping Sheffield achieve its goal of reducing nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate pollution, to improve the health of local people and comply with regulations.
Cllr Scott added: “A modern, vibrant city needs to have a high-quality environment, including cleaner air and cleaner transport, for the benefit of local people and also in order to attract people to the city for work or leisure.
“Sheffield aspires to be a city where health inequalities are reduced and air is healthy for all to breathe.”
A bus advertising campaign, which is part of Air Aware in Sheffield, has already been launched, with adverts on the back of eco-friendly hybrid vehicles. Radio advertising and poster campaigns will begin in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, dedicated Twitter and Facebook sites are also being set up so that people can find out more and get involved. Find them at www.facebook.com/airawaresheffield and @AirAwareSheff
For further information visit the new website at www.sheffield.gov.uk/airaware