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Should I Be Worrying About UK Air Quality?

This blog looks in to the state of the UK’s air quality, whether we should be worried about it, and how we can help ourselves.

Air pollution is something of a back alley issue in the UK – there’s not many people speaking on it and when people do the local branch of government typically makes somewhat vague promises to reduce it, culminating in very little being done.

It’s an issue that many are worried about these days, as cars are more popular than ever and lorry freight also makes up a huge part of the way products are sent around the country.

But what does this all mean for the reader? It seems ever-frustrating to figure out whether you’re at risk from dirty air, but increasingly studies are saying we are, but not always where.

In London things are obviously pretty bad – when the congestion charge came in it was very strongly implied that it would combat air pollution (although if you ask many Londoners they’ll tell you it hasn’t really done much).

So, for most big city dwellers, the problem is ever present – but what about people in small towns, or people who feel like that living in the sticks protects you from the UK air quality problem?

For Londoners there’s a mapping service on the block which will give you a hand with that – Clean Air Walking Routes provides an up to date air pollution map for London. But for people around the UK, there’s not really much to go on.

How Can We Check UK Air Quality Ourselves?

DEFRA, the environment agency, provides a UK-wide large scale map for those who wonder about the state of their air, but this doesn’t cover local pockets of pollution. After all, a couple of months ago a story from the Guardian said that a study commissioned by the Labour party said that nearly 40 million of us may live in the midst of illegal air pollution.

So it’s frankly difficult and misleading trying to find out how bad it is for the rest of us – but there are a couple of things you can do anyway if you want to feel safer in your home. These include keeping humidity low, keeping windows open, cultivating large leaved houseplants, and making sure you don’t smoke or pollute your indoor air further indoors by using air freshener and candles.

It seems mind boggling difficult to avoid dirty air currently, and you may have noticed in this article we can’t really offer you much comfort except to try to help raise awareness. As we edge closer to 2020 the environmental repercussions of mankind’s folly will no doubt become more obvious, especially in rich countries like the UK and US who are actively avoiding tackling climate change on a nationwide level.

At any rate, if you’re incensed with anger about our poor air quality, the best thing you can do is spread the word and hopefully one day people will stop using petrol and diesel cars. It’s not ideal but we all have to start somewhere. But keep growing those houseplants nonetheless and stay well ventilated in the time being.