Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK. The World Health Organisation and the UK Government recognise that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today. Poor air quality causes heart and lung diseases, is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development and may even contribute to mental health issues.
Clean Air Day is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign, engaging thousands of people at hundreds of events, and reaching millions more through the media. This year Clean Air Day is taking place on 17 June 2021.
- Improve public understanding of air pollution.
- Build awareness of how air pollution affects our health.
- Explain the easy actions we can all do to tackle air pollution, helping to protect the environment and our health.
- Global Action Plan, the sustainability charity that co-ordinates Clean Air Day, the UK’s largest campaign on air pollution, launches new resources for the Day on 17 June 2021.
- This year’s theme ‘protect our children’s health from air pollution’ highlights the urgency to safeguard our children’s short- and long-term health from the impacts of air pollution and build a clean air future as we recover from the pandemic.
- The campaign is aiming to harness the ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ to support top-level and grassroots behaviour change to create a healthy and safe environment for our children to return to.
- Children are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution – starting in the womb, it can harm their health, causing or triggering asthma, damaging lung development, and can even affect their ability to learn.
15 April 2021 – Sustainability charity Global Action Plan, which co-ordinates Clean Air Day, today launches this year’s resources ahead of the 17 June campaign. The 2021 resources enable all audiences across the UK from individuals, schools, businesses, health organisations, community groups and local authorities to demonstrate support for action on air pollution and have their say about building a healthy future for our children.
The resources support ‘do and say’ actions in line with this year’s Clean Air Day theme: ‘protect our children’s health from air pollution’. Such actions include grassroots behaviour asks such as going polluting-vehicle free, to supporting high-level council action.
Specific actions include:
- Individuals – are being asked to go polluting-vehicle free by leaving the car at home and refraining from ordering non-essential, polluting deliveries as well as supporting their local authority’s actions to tackle air pollution to protect children’s health.
- Schools – are being asked to host assemblies to raise awareness on air pollution, to encourage parents, carers and teachers to leave the car at home and to tell their local council what they want to see happening to tackle air pollution by writing or tweeting them to protect children’s health.
- Businesses – are being asked to signal their commitment to cleaning up toxic air by assessing and addressing their business impact on air quality and make a public statement outlining their commitment to protect children’s health.
- Health sector – hospitals and health professionals are being encouraged to host events and use the campaign as an opportunity to share information with patients and staff on the impact of air pollution and how to protect their health. They are also being asked to support local council’s clean air activities by writing or tweeting at them about what they want to see happening to tackle air pollution to protect children’s health.
- Local authorities – are being asked to communicate the health risks of air pollution and how to tackle it to schools, residents, businesses and health groups with the need for action and say what they are doing to protect children’s health from air pollution.
This year’s theme ‘protect our children’s health from air pollution’ was selected to highlight the urgency to safeguard our children’s health from the impacts of air pollution as we recover from the pandemic and look to build a clean air future.
Air pollution impacts us all from our first breath to our last, but children are at higher risk to both the short-and longer-term impacts of air pollution. Poor air quality impacts their health, lung development, and even their ability to learn and for the first time, there is evidence that air pollution caused the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah following the recent landmark ruling.
2020 also further saw children bear the burden of COVID-19, impacting their freedom, education and mental wellbeing. As children return to their lives the charity says cleaner air is imperative for them to walk and cycle to school safely and learn and play in healthy spaces.