Green Councillors in Brighton and Hove are calling for an annual ‘Cleaner Air Day’ to improve poor air quality in the City and to raise awareness of the problem of toxic pollutants and the harm they cause to residents’ health.
Proposals being put forward to a meeting of full Council today (Feb 1st
) will ask that Brighton and Hove consider introducing an annual Cleaner Air Day from 2018, with the aim of highlighting the causes and effects of air pollution and helping residents to understand how they can play a part in cleaning up the city’s air to the benefit of their health. Suggested dates are June, to align with UK Clean Air Day, or September, to align with International Car Free Day
Greens are keen to see action taken on air quality in the city, with recent reports showing that UK air pollution is linked to up to 40,000 early deaths a year.
Brighton and Hove is one of 40 UK cities listed by the World Health Organisation as breaching safe air pollution limits. ‘Hotspots’ in the city such as on London Road, Western Road and North Street regularly exceed both U.K and E.U limits for nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas that along with other pollutants has been identified as a main cause of premature deaths and lung cancer.
Cllr Louisa Greenbaum, who is proposing the motion, said:
“In Brighton and Hove exposure to pollutants in the air is linked to 175 deaths each year and is a factor in health conditions such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. Reducing air pollution benefits everyone but particularly our children and older people who are disproportionately affected.
“A Cleaner Air Day would involve closing some city centre roads to traffic, organising a volunteer-led ‘no-idling’ patrol, as well as community, school, business and workplace led awareness and pollution reduction events.
“The benefits for the city and its residents would be huge. Not only on the day itself, when we expect pollution levels to drop significantly, but longer term, too. We want people to live in cities where they can breathe clean air and reclaim space to walk, cycle, and have fun safely.
“The Council needs to be pushing much harder for action on toxic air, and this could be the catalyst we have been waiting for.”
Similar initiatives in Paris and Cardiff were shown to reduce concentrations of toxic air significantly, with reports from events in Paris revealing that emissions of toxic nitrogen dioxide had dropped by up to 40%.