When you’re out and about you can be breathing in polluted air without even knowing it.
And you might be adding to the problem by the way you travel.
There are plenty of ways we can all help to clean up the air we breathe.
A few simple changes might help you avoid breathing in dirty air, too.
Surprisingly, drivers can be exposed to more pollution inside their vehicle than pedestrians or cyclists. Cutting down on time in your car by walking and cycling more will both reduce pollution and your exposure to it. If it’s a longer journey, can you walk or cycle to your local bus, tram stop or train station?
If we all use public transport more we’ll help reduce air pollution as well as traffic. And if you already use public transport, why not encourage your friends and family as well?
Try to stay away from the busiest roads with slow-moving traffic. Walking or cycling on quieter streets can lower your exposure to air pollution significantly.
If you’re stuck in traffic, you can be exposed to more air pollution inside your car than outside. So if your vehicle has a recycled air setting, remember to use it.
It sounds simple, but just moving a short distance on the pavement away from traffic can reduce your exposure.
Cars climbing uphill can give off higher emissions. By walking on the opposite side of the road you’ll breathe in fewer fumes.
If you go for a run or a jog you’re likely to inhale more fumes than people walking the same distance. Try to avoid traffic at peak times by exercising early, or use the side streets where pollution is lower. On high pollution days, avoid strenuous exercise outdoors if you suffer from lung or heart problems. High pollution days typically occur only 10 to 20 days a year.
Young children are more at risk from air pollution as their bodies are still developing. Research has suggested that using pram covers can help protect babies and young children from harmful air pollution when near the roadside.
If you do need to drive, you can still reduce the impact of your journey.
Greater Manchester has more than 3,500 park and ride spaces for people who’d like to drive to their local Metrolink stop, train station or bus stop.
Leaving your engine ticking over when your car is stationary makes air pollution worse.
Switching your engine off when you’re at a standstill for a while can make a real difference.
Engines will stay warm for 30-60 minutes after switching off so you needn’t worry about the cold, and stopping and starting doesn’t affect the lifespan of modern engines. In fact, leaving the engine running when you’re parked up can actually increase wear and tear.
Improvements in technology also mean modern batteries need less engine running time.
And if you think keeping your engine running while you’re stopped on a yellow line means you won’t get a fine, you’re sadly mistaken. Traffic wardens can fine you if you are parked somewhere you shouldn’t be, whether your engine is running or not.
So, do your bit and turn off your engine when you’re stopped.
If you need to drive to and from work, can you change the time you travel to reduce air pollution at peak hours?
Remember to service your car regularly to make sure it runs as efficiently and cleanly as possible.
Correctly inflated car tyres can save fuel and reduce pollution, so make sure you check yours regularly.
Buddy-up with someone at work and split the fuel costs, cut congestion and reduce parking problems and air pollution. Check out the Car Share GM scheme for businesses.
Time to upgrade? Why not try out an electric, hybrid or LPG vehicle? As well as being great to drive, they’re cheaper to run and maintain – and you’ll save on road tax, too. Check out the Greater Manchester Electric Vehicle Scheme (GMEV).
We all understand the traffic problems caused by the school run. Sadly this also causes pollution affecting our children. Leaving the car behind and walking or cycling with the kids to school more regularly can make a real difference.
If you drive there are plenty of ways you can make sure your journey is more environmentally friendly.