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Air Quality – What you do makes a difference

Tuesday 29 March 2016

People across Sheffield are being encouraged to make small changes to make a big difference to the air we breathe.

Did you know that walking or cycling once a week instead of driving could cut air pollution by up to 20 percent, you can’t always see or smell harmful vehicle emissions, and pollution levels are higher inside your car than out?

No? Then you’re not alone. In an effort to help people understand how they can improve the air we breathe, the risks we face and the causes, Sheffield City Council have produced some easy to understand graphics showing what kind of small changes we can all make to everyday life that really will make a big difference to you and the rest of the city.

 

The hidden menace

Air pollution damages health and most of it comes from vehicle emissions from road traffic, so it’s no surprise that less driving means cleaner air and better health.

Harmful chemicals NO2 gas and PM10 dust are the hidden menace in our air – we can’t always see them or smell them but they can have drastic effects on our health.

We know that pollution levels are higher inside a car with the engine running than they are outside in the open air, so what better reason to take a walk or get on your bike?

 

Planning your journeys

Walking or cycling just once a week instead of driving could reduce air pollution by up to 20 percent – so, think about how you can plan your week to make that change. Could you cycle to work or do the school run on foot? Or maybe even run to work and build your workout in to your day.

If you’re walking or cycling plan your route on quieter streets or off road paths wherever possible – you’ll save yourself from the harmful NO2 gas and PM10 dust vehicle emissions that are much higher in heavy traffic areas.

And if you need to do the school run by car, turn off when you drop off, and consider parking a little further from school if you’re going up to class – you’ll reduce the pollution levels around the school and the effects on your little one’s lungs.

 

Drive Smarter

We know that busy lifestyles mean it’s not always possible to leave the car at home, but if you must take the car then you can drive smarter.

The air pressure in your tyres affects the way you drive and the level of emissions that come from your vehicle – so, check your tyres regularly to make sure the pressure is right.

If you can, avoid cars that use diesel – diesel is the most harmful fuel when it comes to emissions and if you drive less than 12,000 miles a year, it’s not cheaper than petrol!

Wouldn’t it be great if we could improve the air and ease congestion? Car sharing would do the job. If 1 in 5 car users took up car sharing we could reduce air pollution levels by up to 20 percent and reduce the number of cars on the road and that means less time sitting in your car with the engine running where emission levels are highest. Check out https://southyorkshire.liftshare.com/ to find out how you can car share.

 

What we do makes a difference

We can all make a difference in very small ways but Sheffield City Council is trying to make a difference on a larger scale.

Councillor Terry Fox, cabinet member for environment and transport said: “We know there is much to be done in Sheffield to improve the quality of our air and it is our priority to achieve better conditions in the city.

“We are working on several schemes to combat air quality issues, such as our unique ‘Inmotion’ project which has already supported local businesses to switch to electric vehicles and has installed rapid vehicle charging across the city, and we have been successful in reaching the shortlisting stage in a funding bid to Government to increase the number of low-emission taxis and private hire vehicles in Sheffield.

“These projects will contribute to a reduction in air pollution and we will continue to develop ways to reduce this further. But we cannot do it alone and that’s why we’re asking people to make small changes in their day to day lives.

“We’ve developed these graphics so that we can help people in Sheffield understand how they can contribute to improving our air, because together we can make a huge difference for the benefit of everyone’s health and the environment that we treasure.”

The council has several ongoing work areas including:

  • A successful bid for £500,000 ‘Clean Bus Technology’ funding to get cleaner buses in Sheffield, plus the Transport Services team is an active member of the ECO Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme which promotes efficient and cleaner operations for heavy goods vehicles, buses, coaches and vans.
  • Encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles, including the trialling of alternative fuels and the purchase of 10 bio-methane gas refuse collection vehicles by delivery partner Veolia.
  • Transport Services have purchased 18 diesel hybrid mini-buses and 10 mini-coaches for use on home to school transport services.
  • Transport Services are also undertaking an electric car trial for staff, with 2 Peugeot Ion electric vehicles available for travelling on council business.
  • Promoting active travel – for example, Cycle Boost, Walk Boost and Bus Boost schemes. Other schemes include Green Driving, ECO Stars, and Plugged in South Yorkshire, Car Club and Car Share. The Council’s Green Route Network project is also developing a network of cycle routes.
  • The running of the Community Diffusion Tube Project, which enables people to have a diffusion tube in their home, office or school to get a reading of local air quality.
  • Council employees can take advantage of a new Salary Sacrifice Scheme enabling them to save on the cost of a new pedal bike and / or cycling equipment.
  • The council launched its DEFRA funded ‘AirAware in Sheffield’ media campaign in October 2014: www.sheffield.gov.uk/airaware – the campaign also has its own Facebook and Twitter profiles.
    Sheffield has been shortlisted for the OLEV Taxi Scheme and is working with bus and taxi operators and other partners to develop their bid further.
  • SCR / SYPTE have also recently submitted two bids to OLEV to fund the operation of more low emission buses in our region.

More information on Sheffield’s air quality and what is being done to tackle the issue is available on the council’s Air Aware webpage at www.sheffield.gov.uk/airaware, or on Twitter @AirAwareSheff or the Facebook page Air Aware Sheffield.