This webpage shares advice for how we can all take action to help clean Camden’s air, to protect our health now and in the future.
What is Clean Air for Camden?
Clean Air for Camden is our vision for a borough where no person experiences ill health because of the air they breathe. It is also the name we give to our public information and awareness campaign.
Clean Air for Camden is designed to empower everyone who lives, works, and learns in Camden to better understand how air quality is important for our health, and to help people to take action to reduce their exposure and contribution to air pollution.
Why is clean air important?
Air pollution has a significant impact on public health, with exposure to air pollution estimated to cause 36,000 premature deaths each year in the UK – that’s 20 times more than the number of deaths caused by road traffic accidents. Air pollution is estimated to cost the NHS and social care systems as much as £20 billion each year in the UK.
In Camden, particulate air pollution is responsible for 7% of all deaths whilst degrading quality of life for many more. Those most affected are people with asthma, hay fever and other health conditions.
Everyone is affected by air pollution, and clean air is important for us all.
We all have a role to play in cleaning Camden’s air, and there are steps we can all take to reduce our exposure to air pollution as well as reducing our contribution to it.
Reducing air pollution will help to protect our health now, and in the future.
Clean air for my street: Recommendations for individuals and communities
Here are some suggestions for how individuals and community groups in Camden can help to improve local air quality and protect health.
Use your voice to raise awareness about air quality and health, and influence others to reduce their exposure and contribution to air pollution:
- Have your say on any surveys, consultations, or requests for feedback proposals about air quality, public health, and the environment.
- Talk your family, friends, colleagues and your community about air pollution and its effect on health, especially if you know people who might be especially vulnerable to air pollution (for example, children, pregnant women, people with asthma or other respiratory (breathing) or heart illnesses).
- Start up a local campaigning and action group or join an existing one such as Bloomsbury Air Action, Mums for Lungs or Choked Up.
- Support national awareness days such as National Clean Air Day.
- Start or join a local community anti-idling campaign to raise awareness among neighbours about the effect that vehicle engine idling has on air quality and public health. As children are more vulnerable to air pollution, you can look into raising awareness about engine idling around schools during school pick drop-off and pick-up times.
- Take part in community air quality activities and projects (such as community air quality monitoring and green walks).
Reduce your exposure to air pollution:
- Download and share our guidance and resources, and consider how you travel, how you cook, and how you heat your home.
- Walk or cycle where you can – exposure to air pollution is higher inside cars than outside. You can take clean air walking routes across London, use one of Camden’s new cycle lanes and store a bike securely in a bike hangar near you
- Apply for a Healthy School Street for your local school
- Set up a Play Street on your road. A Play Street closes off a road to traffic for a few hours on a regular basis in order to provide children with a safe and healthy space to play freely.
- Use our air quality e-form to report instances of pollution from road, construction, or other pollution emitting activities.
- Subscribing to airTEXT, a free pollution forecasting service.
Reduce your contribution to air pollution:
- Shop locally wherever possible and choose a click and collect service rather than getting deliveries directly to your home.
- Make sustainable and active travel choices. Walk, cycle, or take public transport rather than driving if you are able to do so.
- Never leave your vehicle’s engine idling whilst you are stationary at the side of the road or parked.
- If you have to make a car journey, join a car club or use an electric vehicle. Camden has the largest network of car clubs in London, with a car within walking distance of all residents 24/7
- Avoid burning wood, coal, or other solid fuels at home unless you have no other source of heating. Burning solid fuels produces harmful air pollution which can affect your health as well as your neighbours and your community.
- Avoid burning garden waste and other outdoor fires, and consider using a green waste collection instead.
- Improve energy efficiency in your home, for example by ensuring your boiler is serviced routinely and operating efficiently, or by improving insulation, which will help to keep your home warm whilst reducing your energy bills and emissions of air pollution and carbon dioxide from heating your home. Visit the Energy efficiency grants and services webpage to view advice and apply for grant funding.
Clean air for my school: Recommendations for schools, parents and carers:
Children are especially vulnerable to air pollution because their lungs and brains are still developing. Thousands of children in London have asthma – about three in every classroom – and air pollution is an important factor which contributes to the development of asthma as well as triggering symptoms.
Children are exposed to air pollution on their way to and from school, as well as throughout the day. Schools can contribute to air pollution but can also be powerful advocates for change.
What can schools do to help improve air quality and protect health?
- Develop a School Travel Plan, championing journeys to school by walking, scooting, and cycling. Schools which create their School Travel Plans using the TfL STARS accreditation scheme are eligible to receive funding to support their travel plans.
- Apply for a Healthy School Street.
- Organise air pollution assemblies or incorporate air pollution into lessons using our free resources.
- Take part in community air quality monitoring projects. Such as Future Neighbourhoods – Somers Town community monitoring.
- Sign up for the Camden School Climate Charter to gain access to free resources and activities to address both the climate crisis and the air quality health crisis.
- Teachers can sign up to the School Sustainability Peer Support Network to receive guidance and support to address climate and air pollution issues in their schools and the wider community
- Create your own Clean Air Walking Route Map and encourage pupils to choose routes with lower pollution levels, meaning they breathe cleaner air on their journeys to and from school.
What can parents and carers do to help improve air quality and protect health?
- Swap school journeys in the car for walking or cycling to reduce congestion and increase exercise. Take a look at Camden Cycling Skills for safe cycling training and find your clean air walking route. Or you can try a family cargo bike.
- Don’t idle your vehicle outside school gates. Children are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, and it can have a serious impact on their health.
Clean air for my business: Recommendations for businesses, employers and employees
Air pollution is bad for business and for the economy. Breathing polluted air – whether at work, while commuting, or elsewhere – can damage health, increasing the number of staff sick days and reducing productivity (by affecting cognitive function). In contrast, a healthier workforce is more productive and takes fewer days of sick leave, so clean air is good for business.
The Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have estimated that air pollution causes the UK £20 billion pounds each year in health and social care costs. With increasing attention on the air quality health crisis, it is likely to become advantageous for businesses to demonstrate a positive contribution to their surrounding communities and local environment.
Reduce your business’s contribution to air pollution:
- Encourage staff to walk or cycle to work.
- Register as a cycle to work scheme provider and help your employees spread the cost of a new bike through 12 monthly tax-free instalments.
- Become a member of the Camden Climate Change Alliance and join a network of hundreds of businesses in Camden working together to tackle air pollution and the climate crisis, for example by downloading and applying CCCA resources such as the Travel Plan Guidance.
- Bid for funding from the Camden Climate Fund to support energy efficiency improvements, such as heating and lighting updates and installation of solar panels.
- Choose green energy suppliers and environmentally sustainable products.
- Consider how deliveries are made to and from your business. Try and utilise delivery consolidation services where available and promote the use of cargo bikes and electric vehicles (see Transport for London: Reducing deliveries and servicing visits).
Reduce your workplace exposure to air pollution:
- Share information about air pollution and its effects on health with your employees.
- Take part in air quality research projects, like our recent project to look at ways of reducing emissions from commercial kitchens, as part of the Camden Town ‘Low Emission Neighbourhood’. For opportunities to participate in innovative research projects, join the Camden Climate Change Alliance for free, and sign up for monthly news bulletins.
- Use the British Safety Council’s information for employers to help protect the health of your workers. This is particularly relevant for outdoor workers.
- Ensure your building or workplace is well-maintained, that heating systems are serviced routinely and functioning properly, and that ventilation systems are operational (including changing the HEPA filters in your ventilation systems when required, if you have these).
- Keep workplaces clean and dust-free, using low- or zero-chemical cleaning products such as those labelled ‘low-VOC’ or ‘non-toxic’. Where possible, avoid using chemical bleaches or disinfectants and glass polish.
- Ensure cooking areas and kitchens are well-ventilated and that filtration and extraction systems are operational.
- If you operate a commercial kitchen, consider whether you can change to electric or induction hobs (stoves), and try to avoid using wood or charcoal fuels for cooking because these produce a lot of health-damaging air pollution.
You can contact us by emailing [email protected] for advice and further information, or to share any ideas or examples of how you have taken action to reduce air pollution in your street, your school, or your workplace.