Combination of cold starts and short journeys are a major barrier to air pollution improvements
- More than half of car trips nationally are under 5 miles. In urban areas such as inner London, a third of car trips are just under 2 miles
- Double the amount of pollution emitted from cars in first 5 minutes of journeys
- Clean Air Day 2018 calls on UK residents to leave their cars at home on 21 June and walk or cycle instead
The combination of the pollution burst that is being created as cars warm up in the first 5 minutes of journeys, together with the large proportion of journeys being short ones, is making a significant contribution to the UK’s air pollution challenge. Drivers are suffering the worst effects of this pollution burst as there can be up to double the amount of pollution inside vehicles.
Latest analysis of the EQUA Index data shows that the average daily distance driven in passenger cars in urban areas is not sufficient for a vehicle’s pollution control system to warm up and become fully functional. For the majority of vehicles tested by Emissions Analytics, it can take more than five minutes for pollution control systems to reach operating temperature.
Larissa Lockwood, Head of Health at Global Action Plan, the organisers of Clean Air Day, said, “Taking collective action to tackle air pollution every day can make a massive difference, particularly if we cut down on using the car for these short, polluting journeys, many of which can be walked or cycled instead.
“Imagine if more people left the car at home every day, particularly for these short journeys. We could achieve similar levels of clean air on a daily basis as we did when the roads closed during the London Marathon which led a massive 89% drop in air pollution. We would suffer far fewer health problems from air pollution and we would also reduce levels of congestion and free up our streets, making them safer.
“Let’s take action together on Clean Air Day, 21 June, to make a real difference to the air we breathe. Clean Air Day has developed a range of advice, top tips, and information on the actions that everyone can take to protect themselves from pollution and reduce their impact.”
Small steps can mean major change. Global Action Plan, the organisers of Clean Air Day, suggests that if we all commit to just one of the following, regularly, the differences will be great:
- Use your feet, take to the street and get active - Walk, cycle, bus, tube, tram, boat, however you like to travel, leave your car at home and take to the streets. As well as cutting down the amount of pollution you make, you’ll increase your daily exercise.
- Drive in to the future - Cars may not fly or run on trash yet but when you upgrade your car, explore an electric, hybrid or LPG model (to save on your road tax too)
- Give your car a holiday - There are some easy ways to use your car less; car-sharing or working from home if possible. And they quickly become part of your routine.
- Get out of your car – Car drivers can be exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist. So, avoid sitting in your car in heavy traffic where pollution can build up and walk or cycle instead.
- Keep your car tyres inflated - Having well-inflated tyres means your car will be more efficient and use less fuel. Great for the environment and great for your pocket too.
Air pollution causes heart disease and worsens asthma in adults and children. It is damaging the health of all of us, but particularly young children and those with heart and lung problems. Every year in the UK 29,000 people die prematurely from air pollution - that's about 80 people every day.
Research has shown that there are still significant gaps in public understanding of air pollution and we urgently need to impress upon people the need for them to get involved and how they can make a difference.
2018’s Clean Air Day on 21 June will create a groundswell of action bringing thousands of people together to make UK cities cleaner and healthier. It will provide guidance on the actions people can take today to reduce the air pollution they create and advice on what they can do to protect themselves and their families in the future.