Air pollution – the invisible killer

To start with some startling statistics, the World Health Organisation estimates that there are 4.2 million deaths per year as a result of outdoor (or ‘ambient’) air pollution, and in 2016 it contributed to 7.6% of all deaths.  It is estimated that, of those, 40,000 deaths a year in UK are linked to air pollution.

invisible killer

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By visiting,you can view the air pollution in your own town or city. For example, leafy Norwich, where Liftshare HQ is based, is 20% over WHO’s guideline safe level.

norwich air pol

Working to combat this, the UK government have plans to introduce Clean Air Zones in 5 UK cities, operational by 2020. Clean Air Zones are areas in which the local authority has put measures in place to improve air quality, which can include charging drivers to enter an area if the vehicle doesn’t meet the required standard, traffic flow management and retrofitting certain vehicles.

So, which cities are planned to be affected?


Birmingham currently meets WHO’s guideline limit. Birmingham Live reports that an average of 50% of business vehicles will be charged to enter the proposed clean air zone.


birm air pol


Southampton also meets the safe level and established Clean Air Zone measures in 2017, which includes incentivising people to become more environmentally conscious. However, in 2019 charged measures will come in to place.

southampton air pol


Much like Norwich, Nottingham is 20% over the air quality safe level. Proposed measures to establish the most effective form of Clean Air Zone includes an ‘Eco Expressway’ which will give priority to electric busses, and new cycle routes.

notts air pol


Leeds is also 20% over the safe limit. Leeds are proposing a charging Clean Air Zone which includes daily fees for business vehicles.

leeds air pol


Derby are also taking measures to combat air quality, including retro-fitting council HGV vehicles with emissions reduction technology, promoting National Clean Air Day, and encouraging uptake of sustainable transport. Further information regarding Derby’s Air Quality Action Plan is available here.
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So, what can you do to help improve air quality? The RAC advises 11 ways to reduce your car emissions, including checking your tyre pressure – did you know that low tyre pressure increases fuel consumption and CO2 emissions? Another suggestion is to reduce engine idle time, with idling for 10 seconds consuming more fuel than restarting your engine. Remember, leaving your parked car with the engine running or leaving the engine running unnecessarily can result in a £20 fixed penalty fine.

Furthermore, BreatheLife recommends pledging to leave your car at home for a month and completing a Clean Air Marathon!  Simply commit to walking, cycling or using public transport for the distance of a marathon.

Are you a business owner looking to encourage sustainable travel to your work place, reduce impact on your car park and congestion, and wanting to improve air quality in your area? Liftshare’s myPTP tool enables you to provide automated travel plans to your staff, giving them the information they need to inform behaviour change and help them to take on the Clean Air Marathon! Find out more here or email



Author Laura Watling


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