This article was first published in the March 2020 issue of our parish magazine.
We all know how important it is for children to play sport. They learn to play in a team, and they need exercise and fresh air. But a new report shows that in many areas the air they are breathing is far from healthy. When children exercise, they are breathing more quickly, and so inhale more of the toxic substances. Pollution from traffic results in unsafe levels of Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter, both of which cause significant health problems. Almost a third of cases of childhood asthma are caused by pollution, and children born in areas with a lot of air pollution tend to have smaller lungs – a similar effect to their mothers smoking. In the long term the pollution can cause heart disease and lung cancer.
But the good news is that children’s lung development very quickly improves if the air that they breathe becomes cleaner. So, what can we do?
- Drive less. As well as contributing to the problem of pollution, you and your passengers are being exposed to toxic gases. Walk, or use the bus. But if you must drive…
- Switch off your engine. Two minutes of your engine idling when you are stationary creates enough toxic air to fill three hundred balloons!
- Make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure.
- Drive smoothly to reduce the need to brake. Brake linings contribute significantly to air pollution.
- Walk a different route, and encourage your families to do the same. Using side streets not main roads can lower your explosion to air pollution by 20%.
- Grow pollution busting plants. Peace lily, cornstalk dracaena, and broadleaf lady palm are all recommended for inside, whereas in the garden Scots pine, common alder, larch, Norway maple, field maple, ash and silver birch remove the most pollutants without contributing to the formation of new pollutants.
- Participate in tree planting with City of Trees http://www.cityoftrees.org.uk/or campaign with Manchester Friends of the Earth https://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk/campaign-page/airquality/ or encourage members of your family to get involved.