Clean Air Day 2022

In this month’s blog, Chair of RCEM’s Environmental Special Interst Group, Dr Sandy Robertson, looks at the impact pollution has on the body to mark Clean Air Day 2022.

Today is Clean Air Day, with this year’s message highlighting that air pollution dirties every organ in the body.

We know that air pollution has a huge effect on our health, from increasing emergency presentations on bad air days to an increase in cardiovascular disease over the long term.  We thought we’d take the opportunity to highlight how we can reduce the harm caused to ourselves and our patients by air pollution with these top tips.

1. Know your air pollution levels

The key thing to reducing harm from air pollution is to know what the air pollution levels are, including pollen. The Met office has good information on this and you can search your local area, you can even set up alerts on your phone. 

2. Know your air pollution harm reduction tips

  • Avoid walking along busy roads.
  • Keep kids above exhaust level I.e. out of buggies and prams if you can’t avoid busy roads.
  • Avoid going outside as much as possible on severe pollution days and especially avoid exercise.
  • Aim to use active transport wherever possible, air pollution levels are always higher in cars and you will be reducing the air pollution you create, protecting others.

3. Don’t forget the home

Indoor air pollution is having an increased effect as we live more indoor lifestyles.

  • If outdoor air pollution allows ensure good ventilation in the house.
  • Avoid burning anything in the home, including gas hobs, candles and wood burning stoves.

4. Spark action on climate change

As healthcare practitioners, we are privileged to be some of the most trusted voices in society. By talking to patients about the health effects of air pollution and how to reduce the risk we are making the connection between health and the climate crisis, this could be the spark that gets people to take further action on climate change. 

One final thing to highlight as we are due to have a heatwave in the UK over the next few days is that this will worsen the levels of air pollution, so the advice above may come in handy. And don’t forget these simple tips to avoid harm from heat I.e. avoid being outside in midday sun, keep hydrated, stay in the shade and check on the older people in your life.

If this has interested you then please get in contact with the Environmental Specialist Interest group environment@rcem.ac.uk, follow us on Twitter @GreenED_UK and be sure to look at the clean Air day website. 

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