Only 6% people in the North West think their air quality is bad despite toxic levels of air pollution in the region

Date published: 01 March 2017

Friends of the Earth is calling on people across the North West to take part in a ground-breaking nationwide experiment on air pollution as a YouGov poll of Brits reveals that although 58% of adults in the North West say they are concerned about air pollution in the country, only 6% rate the air quality in their own area as ‘bad’, on a scale of 0 to 10 - despite Birkenhead, Greater Manchester and Liverpool breaking pollution limits according to Defra.

Air pollution is linked to heart disease, lung cancer, worsening asthma and poor lung development in children and leads to the premature deaths of around 40,000 people every year in the UK. But today’s results suggest that despite the issue of air pollution grabbing the headlines, the message about how bad air quality is across the North West isn’t getting through. This is despite the fact that according to Defra the ‘air quality zones’ for Birkenhead, Greater Manchester and Liverpool are currently breaking legal air pollution limits.

Friends of the Earth is launching what they hope will be the biggest ever citizen science air pollution experiment to help people find out more about the air they’re breathing. Friends of the Earth’s ‘Clean Air Kits’ enable people to test the air quality near them, as well as providing people with tips on how to avoid air pollution and what they can do to help support the fight for clean air.

The environmental charity is hoping thousands will join in the experiment so that they can create a comprehensive national air pollution picture. The data generated by the experiment will feed into a national map which will help create a “state of the nation” report on air pollution.

Oliver Hayes, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, said: “With only 6% of adults in the North West rating their air quality as poor despite swathes of the region breaking legal limits for air pollution, it seems the message about the scale and danger of air pollution isn’t getting through.

“Often you can’t see it, or smell it, but it’s there – and air pollution is risking the health of an entire generation of children.

“Our Clean Air Kits help people to find out about the air quality in the places they care about most: on the street where they live, where they work, where their children go to school and at the heart of their communities.

“The results will help us build up a national picture of the state of our nation’s air to help highlight why everyone, from individuals, to businesses and politicians should do all they can to make the air we breathe safer.”

Dr Benjamin Barratt, a senior air quality scientist at King’s College London, said: “Friends of the Earth’s Clean Air Kits are a valuable tool in enabling people to discover what air pollution is like in places that matter to them. If enough people take part, the data they gather could shed new light on the reality of pollution at a local level throughout the country”

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