We all want healthy and happy future for our children and as parents we have a lot of say in making sure that happens. I’m supporting a charity called AirTeamUK, that created a campaign called BreathGB. It is an important campaign, that calls for measures to reduce air pollution and unleash Britain’s sporting potential.
What is AirTeamUK
The Air Team is a group of parents, teachers, and campaigners on a mission to clean up Britain’s air.
A brand new report just been released which looks at air pollution levels where kids have been exercising during lockdown, finding the air dangerously dirty. Studies show that children growing up in the most polluted areas see their lung growth stunted by up to 14%, which can lead to issues with asthma and even lung cancer. We also know that air pollution particularly impacts BAME communities.
Exercise is vital to physical and mental health, particularly for children and especially at a time when their young lives have been so disrupted by a global pandemic. Exercise also boosts the immune response to infection and protects against diseases like Covid-19.
Cleaning up the air will protect young lungs and help the UK’s fight against Covid-19. So BreathGB and AirTeamUK is calling for WHO safe limits on air pollution to be adopted into UK law. Because, surprisingly, they are currently not adopted.
The report also reinforces the inequalities for BAME communities hardest hit by both COVID-19 and poor air quality. Children living in the most deprived areas of London are exposed to higher levels of NO2.
Of the 10 most polluted sites, 3 were primary schools. The site with the highest level of air pollution was a primary school in London. The numbers are similar and even worse in Birmingham, Manchester and other major UK cities. Over half the sites tested had levels of PM2.5 far exceeding WHO guidelines. (The main source of this pollutant is vehicle emissions.)
The goal of the campaign
The campaign’s goal is to introduce of Clean Air Zones in all major UK cities and for the Government to adopt WHO guidelines on air pollution by 2030 at the latest.
What can we do
So the good news is, evidence strongly suggests that immediate action to reduce air pollution could have significant effects on children’s health and physical wellbeing. A landmark study in California demonstrated that children with stunted lung development living in areas of high pollution showed increased lung development when local air pollution levels were reduced.
We can only fight this together, if we, parents call for change – we have the power to demand and reach this. If we want to protect our children against future diseases like Covid-19, we must take swift and decisive action on air pollution.
Write to your MP, spread the word so others will start demanding cleaner air too, because it should be basic human rights. Take action by organising play streets and use the car less.