November 13, 2018

What We All Should Know About UK Air Pollution Today

If you’re even the slightest bit interested in the environment and our planet (who wouldn’t be?), then it’s definitely worth your while to read this blog post.

Everyone knows about air pollution. Whether it’s from a cartoon TV programme or a depressing news clip, it’s pretty common knowledge what pollution looks and feels like in towns and cities. But whilst we often associate ‘smog’ with China and 1950s London, we can no longer turn a blind eye to the state of air pollution in the UK today. In this blog post, we’re going to expose and discuss some of the latest statistics on the topic. This is what we all need to know!

What causes UK air pollution?

So, let’s get straight down to it. No deflecting from the subject. Air pollution levels are at an alarming level right now and we need to do something about it! Pollution, by definition, means a substance entering our environment that is harmful in some way. This can, of course, refer to water pollution with plastic and land pollution with household waste. But today, we’re focusing on the worrying impact of air pollution. UK air pollution is primarily caused by chemicals from road transport emissions, agriculture and coal/oil production. As an EV-industry company, we’re obviously very interested in the relationship between road emissions and air pollution.

The facts you need to know

Now you know what causes the majority of UK air pollution, it’s time to understand some facts and figures. Just yesterday, The Ecologist published an article outlining the ‘crisis’ we are currently facing. The publication said that the campaign against air pollution must be made equivalent to that of health campaigns such as anti-smoking and cancer awareness. Whilst this may sound extreme, the health implications of exposure to air pollution are just too great to ignore. This year, the first ever Clean Air Summit in the UK was held in June. MPs and city mayors gathered to raise awareness for the importance of a clean air campaign. Here are just a few facts that might interest you about UK air pollution:

  • More harmful types of pollution are more prevalent in winter and evenings i.e. in January and at 9pm
  • Urban ozone pollution has increased steadily since 2003 when it was first monitored
  • Rural ozone pollution has shown neither an increase or decrease until 2016
  • However, both urban and rural pollution has had a slight increase
  • In 2017, the BBC reported that all types of air pollution had been decreasing except emissions from farming
  • The UK’s main cities regularly surpass their ‘safe’ limits of unsafe pollutants
  • All zones in the UK reached the EU-imposed limit for sulphur dioxide, lead, benzene and carbon monoxide in 2017

What can we do?

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how we, as individuals, can make a true difference to air pollution – aside from the obvious like taking public transport. But to even achieve the obvious, we need local councils and the government to focus more on public transport infrastructure and accessibility to electric vehicles for all. Emission-free zones in cities will certainly make a difference to not only the environment but also our health. However, how widespread campaigns like this will be is a different story. The most important thing right now that we can do, collectively, is to spread awareness. Because when people understand how dangerous air pollution is, the more likely they are to act and make noise!