Air pollution is loaded with dangerous heavy metals, poisonous gases such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide and toxic particles known as particulate matter (PM). Reduce your daily risk by taking a few simple steps:
If you do have to walk along a busy road with lots of traffic, make sure you stay as far back from it as possible. Avoid standing near traffic lights or zebra crossings, as cars emit more exhaust fumes when they’re pulling away.
If you’re walking to work or if you’re taking the kids to school, try to use quieter roads. Children are more susceptible to pollution because they breathe quickly and have a much faster metabolism. Download the CleanSpace app (free, itunes.co.uk) to help you to plan your walk along cleaner, lower pollution areas.
You’re more likely to be exposed to higher levels of pollution if you’re a driver, rather than a pedestrian or cyclist, because airborne pollutants get sucked into your car and get trapped inside. Try switching your car’s air vents to ‘recirculate’, especially when you’re in fume-heavy traffic or in enclosed spaces, such as tunnels or underground car parks.
Pollution levels can vary greatly according to weather patterns, so adjust your day accordingly. For local pollution forecasts, head to the Department for Environment’s website at uk-air.defra.gov.uk
Keep wood stoves and fireplaces well maintained, and fill your house with pollutant-filtering plants such as peace lilies, ivy and African violets. Another great tip is to invest in an air purifier that uses photo catalytic oxidation.