Survey hints at growing awareness of air pollution

Research by the Healthy Air Campaign has suggested that the British public has a greater awareness of the causes and effects of air pollution than at the start of 2017.

The Campaign, which is led by partners including ClientEarth, the British Lung Foundation, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and others, claims that one in five people are now more aware of air pollution than at the beginning of the year.

Southampton air quality billboard

One of five billboard ads erected as part of the #HelpBritainBreathe campaign
Photo: Professional Images

The figure is the headline finding in a YouGov Survey, linked to the Campaign’s #HelpBritainBreathe awareness initiative, which sought views on air pollution from more than 1,600 people in England, Scotland and Wales.

Of the fifth of people who said that their awareness of the issue had increased, 75% attributed this to gaining more information from the media about it, from reading and watching the news.

Three in 10 also said it was due to receiving more information about the health implications of dirty air while a quarter (26%) suggested it was due to actions of campaigning groups.

Awareness

Andrea Lee, of the Healthy Air Campaign, and senior campaigner at ClientEarth, said: “Air pollution has been one of 2017’s most-talked about topics and so it’s great to see awareness levels among the general public increasing. However, we know that while the regions are suffering just as much as London, it is the capital that generates the main national headlines.

The #HelpBritainBreathe campaign also ran a series of poster adverts at 77 train stations in December

“Our survey showed 24% of Londoners said their awareness of air pollution has increased in the last 12 months but in the North, just 15% felt the same. That is why this week we are placing adverts at train stations in four of the most-polluted regions of the UK outside of the capital, so people recognise air pollution also affects their home city and that action is needed across the UK to tackle this serious health problem.”

As part of the #HelpBritainBreathe roadside billboard ads have been displayed in five cities from September 2017 – Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Southampton – aiming to educate drivers of the danger of air pollution.

In December, a further poster campaign at 77 train stations in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester.

Running until December 31, the adverts featured messages highlighting how dirty air can harm people at all stages of life including stunting the growth of children’s lungs, contributing to heart problems and the links to premature births and low birth weights.