Clean air is essential to a good quality of life.
Poor air quality can have a significant effect on people’s health, particularly those with heart and/or respiratory conditions. Air pollutants can arise from a variety of sources, including transport, industry and the commercial and domestic sectors.
The main source of air pollution in South Gloucestershire is road traffic. We have a legal duty to manage air quality in South Gloucestershire. We monitor air quality at a large number of locations across the area and produce reports based on the data, which are submitted to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Air Quality, what can I do?
There are lots of steps we can take to improve the quality of the air we breathe. Relatively small changes in behaviour all add up, and if everyone contributes and makes small changes it can make a big difference overall. Find out more about what exactly air pollution is and what effects it can have on our health.
On the go
Our travel choices can contribute to air pollution – particularly when we travel alone in our car. The good news is, we can reduce emissions easily by swapping some of our trips in the car for walking, cycling or taking public transport. As well as reducing emissions, the health benefits of these ‘active travel’ modes far outweigh the risks of roadside air pollution – they can improve your fitness, boost your mood, and increase your productivity.
- Walking: It’s simple, free and can be easily included in your daily routine, such as walking part of your journey to work, or to the shops. Visit One you South Gloucestershire where you can join a local walking group or download a route
- Cycling: There are some beautiful cycle routes and many of these are off-road. Visit Better by Bike to plan your journey, view maps, and find bike shops and repair facilities
- Public transport: A great option if you’re travelling slightly further and a brisk 10-minute walk to the bus stop can count towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise
- Consider sharing lifts: It contributes to better air quality and saves you money on petrol. Just one shared journey a week can make a difference.
- Get more out of the fuel you buy and minimise pollution with eco-driving: Slow down (dropping from 80mph to 70mph can save you up to 25% in fuel), avoid rapid braking and acceleration, drop the revs by changing to higher gears, and avoid ‘idling’ (turn the engine off when you’re parked or waiting for long periods)
- Care for your car: Regular servicing, changing the oil and checking tyre inflation can help reduce your car’s emissions
- Go off-peak: Travelling outside peak hours means less time spent in traffic and less fuel consumption, meaning you can reduce emissions while saving money and time
- Change your vehicle: Try switching to a less polluting model such as an electric or hybrid vehicle. Emissions can vary depending on make and model
Visit Travel West for live information and routes for walkers, cyclists, and public transport, traffic reports, and electric vehicle charging points.
Employer grants have helped pay for cycle parking and changing facilities. Our online platform can help you promote journey sharing at your workplace, and we can offer free loan bikes in a range of styles (i.e. hybrid, folding, electric) to anyone who lives and works in South Gloucestershire. Visit Travel West to find out how we can help your business promote active travel, lower your carbon footprint and reduce transport costs for staff.
- Check your boiler: If it’s more than 10 years old, it might be worth considering upgrading to a new high efficiency model with lower nitrogen oxides (Nox) emissions. In many cases, the long-term savings you make with a more efficient boiler will cover the outlay.
- Avoid solid fuel burners, such as stoves or fireplaces. If you already own one and choose to use it make sure you follow this advice leaflet by using the right fuel on an efficient and well-maintained appliance. Some of South Gloucestershire is covered by a Smoke Control Area which allows only approved appliances and fuels to be used.
- Burn less, compost more: Burning garden waste releases harmful substances into the air such as carbon monoxide, dioxins, ozone-forming chemicals, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter. Protect your lungs by composting instead – it returns helpful nutrients to the soil and can improve lawns and flower beds. Garden waste such as twigs and leaves can be shredded and used as mulch around shrubs and trees.
- Switch your energy supplier to a renewable energy supplier. They sometimes work out cheaper and the way the energy is generated is less polluting. You could also consider installing “clean” renewable energy generation, for example via solar photovoltaics.
- Open your windows for ventilation when you clean, do DIY, smoke or do other activities that release pollutants directly into your home.
- Use extractor fans, as they remove moisture, smoke, and pollutants from the air.
- Save your power: Use energy saving light bulbs, switch appliances off when not in use, or turn the thermostat down by as little as 1 or 2⁰C.
- Insulate your home so there is less of a need to heat and cool it, or turn your thermostat down.
- Buy local: Online shopping increases freight trips. You can improve air quality by shopping locally, especially if you walk. You’ll be supporting your local economy too – just don’t forget to bring your own bags.
Other helpful hints and tips
- Check the air pollution forecast from the MET office by entering your postcode or signing up for alerts. This is particularly a good idea for people who are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution (children, older people and people with heart or lung conditions).
- Reduce your meat consumption: Farming produces air pollution (mainly ammonia) so try eating less meat and more fruits, vegetable and grains. This is also good for your health.
- Try to reduce your waste: We cannot stop waste production entirely, but everyone can make a significant contribution, including by reducing food waste. Think before you bin! As well as reducing air pollution it saves energy and natural resources in addition to limiting the need for landfill.
- Get planting: Some trees and house plants can contribute to better air quality and have other benefits such as reducing climate change.
- View your local air quality report: Each year we produce a detailed report on the air quality in South Gloucestershire where you can read more about what we’re doing as a council.