Air quality data blitz on every breath we take
Liverpool will be monitoring the air that we breathe in real time all day tomorrow (Thursday, 20 June) – as the city marks Clean Air Day.
A specially commissioned Air Quality Monitoring Vehicle (AQMV), supplied by air data specialists Enviro Technology, will be on patrol to give a second-by-second picture to better identify the scale of the city’s air pollution hot spots.
The AQMV will be patrolling the city for 72 hours to provide mobile data, supplementing the information collected on a monthly basis by the council at 146 monitoring locations across the city.
Liverpool, which is a designated Air Quality Management Area (AQMA), will also mark Clean Air Day by hosting a key note seminar, led by the Royal College of Physicians, which will highlight the negative health impact of poor air qualityon our lungs and brains. According to latest scientific research it is estimated the problem contributes to 230 deaths a year in Liverpool.
The event will be held at 2pm in the RCP’s temporary home in the William Henry Duncan Building, on Derby Street. The historic institution is set to move into its new Northern HQ in the city council’s £1bn Paddington Village development in 2020.
This year’s Clean Air Day comes as Liverpool City Council continues to build on a pledge made in 2017 by the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson to tackle air quality, by delivering a huge raft of environmental initiatives including:
- A schools education pack – introduced to enable teachers to educate children about the dangers of poor air quality.
- Vehicle anti-idling exercises. The council already undertakes anti-idling enforcement in the city centre on a regular basis. On Clean Air Day it will also carry out anti-idling observations outside three schools, one in the North, one in the city centre and one in the South of the city. The aim of the exercise will be to educate parents and guardians of the impact on air quality by leaving their engines running while dropping off and picking up at school.
- On Monday, June 24 work will begin on creating a dedicated bus layover facility that has been designed to take 900,000km of bus miles off the city centre network and 2,000 tonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere – every year. (The bus hub is part of a £45m connectivity strategy in the city centre to improve how people travel on a more environmentally sustainable basis – with a big emphasis on upgrading the public realm for pedestrians and cyclists.)
- A series of electric charging points for vehicles is being rolled out across the city. 69 on-street residential charge points have been fixed to street light columns and it is expected Liverpool’s 100th will be installed in the new Kings Dock Car park next year.
- A cycling champion has also recently been introduced – environmental campaigner and TV presenter Simon O’Brien – to advise the council on implementing a new cycling network across a series of “green corridors”.
- The council’s bike sharing scheme now has 100 stations installed across the city.
- On June 26 the city will welcome the government’s Tree Champion, Sir William Worsley, to unveil a special eco-project as part of the city’s Urban GreenUp programme and to mark the Mersey Forest’s 25th anniversary. The Mersey Forest is working with the city council on a schools tree planting programme which has seen 12,000 trees planted over the past two years.
- The council has undergone a process of converting its own cleansing and refuse collection fleet from petrol to electric – with six vehicles already in operation. A further 20 Compressed Natural Gas Vehicles (CNG) are due to be deployed by Liverpool Street Services Ltd (LSSL) in July.
- And to underscore all of these interventions Liverpool city council will be hosting a special environmental debate at Liverpool Town Hall on Wednesday, 17 July on a proposed motion to declare a climate emergency.
WHAT THEY SAY:
Councillor James Noakes, Cabinet member for Environment and Highways, said: “Liverpool city council is fully committed to improving the air that we all breathe and we are working with a vast range of partners to make that happen.
“The health impact of poor air quality is hugely damaging, especially on our children and our NHS which is why there is so much emphasis on monitoring so we can identify and tackle the hot spots – be it in the city centre or around schools.
“Clean Air Day is great opportunity to showcase what Liverpool is doing all the year round to improve our air quality now and for future generations – be it education packs and tree planting to redesigning the way the city centre is used by vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.
“The new city Bus Hub, which sees work begin next week, is a great example of radically reducing unnecessary mileage, congestion and air pollution. The entire Liverpool City Centre Connectivity scheme, which the bus hub is a critical part of, is focused on making our environment cleaner and greener for everyone who lives, works and visits there – now and in 50 years time.
“We cannot passport tackling air pollution on to the next generation. It will be too late to make a difference if we do. It’s one of the reasons the council is looking to declare a climate emergency. We need to start acting today to save our tomorrow.”
Professor Stephen Holgate, the RCP’s special adviser on air quality, said: “It’s fantastic to see a growing focus on the importance of air quality, coupled with innovative ways of educating the public on the harms of pollution.
“The damage caused by air pollution affects people at all stages of life, from a baby’s first weeks in the womb to the later years of older age. The annual mortality burden in the UK from exposure to outdoor air pollution is equivalent to around 40,000 deaths.
“What we need now is for people to take action. This might mean driving less frequently and walking or cycling instead, or simply opening a window when cooking at home. The smallest things can make a huge difference to the quality of the air we breathe.”
Paul Nolan, Director of The Mersey Forest Team, said: “Since the launch of The Mersey Forest more than half a million trees have been planted in the city. Increasing urban tree cover and creating areas of new woodland can help to reduce the impacts of poor air quality. The Urban GreenUP project in the city is helping to demonstrate how we can target tree planting and other vegetation to help improve air quality.”