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Air pollution in Birmingham, consequences for Kids

School children who grow up in Birmingham could lose around half a year of their lives. Due to illegal levels of air pollution around the city, a new government report has warned.

This study has examined levels of nitrogen dioxide & particulate pollution in the city. This calculates that an eight-year-old child could die up to seven months early if exposed over their lifetime to toxic air. The loss of life expectancy is worse in Birmingham than some other major cities in the UK including Manchester and Leeds.

Birmingham is one of five major cities required by the government to set up a clean air zone (toll charges). This is to reduce air pollution. As part of plans to tackle the illegal levels of pollution in 38 out of 43 areas of England.

But in Birmingham and Leeds the start date of January next year has been postponed because of the software not being ready.

Why is Air Pollution so bad?

More than half of children in Birmingham live in the top 10% of the most deprived areas of the country, and about 8,000 children in the city are growing up in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the UK, according to a report by the Children’s Society.

Air pollution has been identified by Public Health England as the largest environmental risk to public health. In the UK evidence shows that it can cause or worsen a range of lung and heart conditions including asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic heart disease and stroke. Research suggests air pollution caused by NO2 and PM2.5 could cause 36,000 deaths per year.

Polly Billington the director of UK100, said the report should be a wake-up call to policy makers.

“We need to tackle this invisible killer which is cutting the lives of children & causing health misery for thousands of adults. By working together, local councils & central government can put in place ambitious and inclusive clean air zones to tackle the most polluting sources of dirty air and let us breathe freely.”

How Can I reduce my Air Pollution?

Follow these Tips Every Day to Reduce Pollution:

  • Conserve energy – at home, at work, everywhere.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying home or office equipment.
  • Carpool, use public transportation, bike, or walk whenever possible.
  • Follow gasoline refueling instructions for efficient vapor recovery, being careful not to spill fuel and always tightening your gas cap securely.
  • Consider purchasing portable gasoline containers labeled “spill-proof,” where available.
  • Keep car, boat, and other engines properly tuned.
  • Be sure your tyres are properly inflated.
  • Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever possible.
  • Mulch or compost leaves and garden waste.
  • Consider using gas logs instead of wood.

On Days when High Ozone Levels are Expected, Take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:

  • Choose a cleaner commute – share a ride to work or use public transportation.
  • Combine errands and reduce trips. Walk to errands when possible.
  • Avoid excessive idling of your car.
  • Refuel your car in the evening when its cooler.
  • Conserve electricity and set air conditioners no lower than 78 degrees.
  • Defer gardening chores that use gasoline-powered equipment, or wait until evening.

On Days when High Particle Levels are Expected, Take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:

  • Reduce the number of trips you take in your car.
  • Reduce or eliminate fireplace and wood stove use.
  • Avoid burning leaves, rubbish, and other materials.
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.