Air pollution comes from a range of sources, including vehicle emissions, household chemicals and the burning of materials. It increases the risk of some serious illnesses, and can make existing conditions, like respiratory disorders, worse.
We can all take actions in our daily lives to reduce air pollution and our exposure to it.
What can you do?
Leave your car at home
Whether it’s walking, cycling or using a bus or train instead, leaving your car at home not only helps to lower the amount of pollution in the air, it also reduces your exposure to it.
Did you know that car drivers are exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist?
You’ll also be building some valuable exercise into your day!
You can use My Journey’s Journey Planner to find the best routes by bike, foot or public transport for your commute.
Give your car a break
Working from home a day or two a week, swapping face-to-face meetings for video calls and making use of car sharing schemes are all easy ways to use your car less.
Eastleigh’s Cowheels scheme is a community car club offering pay-as-you-drive hire of electric or hybrid cars.
Avoid unnecessary exposure
Walking or cycling down quieter side streets can lower your exposure to air pollution by 20%.
There are some days where it is better to avoid strenuous activity when air pollution is high if you have a heart or lung condition. If you have a condition like asthma, you can sign up for free air pollution alerts by text message, voicemail or email through airAlert.
Keep your tyres inflated and regularly service your car to make sure it runs efficiently and cleanly, saving you money on fuel and reducing your impact on air quality.
If you’re sat in traffic, turn off your engine – it really does make a difference!
Use less polluting products at home
Chemicals in everyday household products called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a major contributor to air pollution. VOCs can be found in cleaning products, air fresheners, cigarettes, paint, building materials and other products.
Open your windows when using cleaning products to make sure you get enough fresh, clean air into your home. Buy paint and varnishes that are labelled as containing low VOCs and minimize you use of scented products like air fresheners, candles and incense. And don’t allow smoking in or near your home.
Burn less wood
Burning wood produces a lot of air pollutants. If you have garden waste to dispose of, rather than putting it on a bon fire, why not join the Council’s Garden Waste Scheme. The garden waste collected under the scheme is recycled into a soil conditioner.
Save your wood-burning stove for when you really need it. If you are planning to buy a stove, make sure it is Defra-approved and only use authorised fuel.
Find out more about what you can do on the Clean Air Day website.
What is the Council doing?
We have a statutory duty to monitor air pollution throughout the Borough. Real time monitors for nitrogen dioxide (with one monitor also measuring particulate matter) give us a picture of the air pollution levels across the Borough.
The Council supports a number of initiatives to address air pollution. These include:
- airAlert - a free service providing pollution alerts direct to residents via text , voice mail or email. It lets residents know when air pollution levels may impact on their health and is a source of information and advice for people with asthma or poor respiratory health.
- the Co-Wheels car club has two electric vehicles available in Eastleigh town centre, for anyone to hire.
- a Low Emission Taxi Incentive Scheme, in partnership with Southampton City Council, that offers cashback for taxi owners to help them replace older, more polluting vehicles with low emission alternatives.
Working with partners
The Council works with a number of organisations, such as other local authorities, public transport providers and developers, to address air pollution. These collaborations include:
- working with Hampshire County Council to address traffic congestion through infrastructure projects, including new cycle paths and bypasses.
- partnering with Eastleigh-based transport operator, Xelabus, to introduce lower emission diesel-electric hybrid buses to routes in the area.
- working with Hampshire County Council and a number of schools across the Borough to raise awareness of air pollution, and the steps that children, their parents and communities can take to tackle it - particularly around schools.
The Council actively promotes cycling across the Borough, which has 71km of bike routes and over 40 cycle parking facilities, including at bus stops along the Bluestar 1 line.
What we plan to do
Air Quality Action Plan 2020-2025
An Air Quality Action Plan details what the Council will do to reduce pollutant levels below the levels set out in the UK National Air Quality Standards. It builds on previous local action plans, incorporating existing actions and adding new ideas.
Although the focus is on areas with the highest exposure, the whole Borough is included to reflect the impact on the wider area and ensure we take account of how issues in one location can impact another.
A draft plan was consulted on during September and October 2019 and the final Air Quality Action Plan will be published in early 2020.