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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Council Looking Ahead to Clean Air Day 2023 With School Air Quality Project Extension 

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Highland Council is looking ahead to Clean Air Day 2023 by announcing the continuation of an air quality awareness raising project and monitoring survey at schools in the area.

Clean Air Day is the UK’s largest campaign on air pollution and takes place on Thursday 15 June 2023.

The theme this year is “Clean up our air to look after your mind this #CleanAirDay”.

This year’s Clean Air Day will focus on the benefits of cleaner air, not only on our physical health and the environment, but also the ways in which it can protect our mental and brain health.

Highland Council’s awareness raising project and monitoring survey covered six primary schools last year within the region.

Air quality monitoring was undertaken along roads surrounding the schools by deploying passive diffusion tubes to collect data on nitrogen dioxide concentrations over a three-month period.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is generally considered a useful indicator for measuring and judging air pollution stemming from motor vehicle sources.

In addition, real-time data was collected for a range of pollutants using EarthSense Zephyr units.

Officers delivered presentations to Primary 6 and 7 pupils at each school and discussed the causes and impacts of traffic and air pollution.

A summary of results was issued to all the primary schools involved, which included Dalneigh, Holm, Bishop Eden, Crown, Kirkhill in Inverness and Pennyland in Thurso.

The project has close links with Highland Council Road Safety Team’s Safer Routes to School Programme, which encourages active travel to schools.

For the schools surveyed to date, the information gathered over a three-month period concluded that the air quality at all six schools fell safely within Scottish Government standards on air quality for nitrogen dioxide.

Chair of Highland Council’s Climate Change Committee, Cllr Karl Rosie, welcomed the local authority’s continued support of Clean Air Day.

He said:

“Cleaning up the air we all breathe is good for us in so many ways.

“In addition to the positive effects on our physical and mental health it is important to remember that we are also in the middle of a climate emergency and reducing harmful emissions is a big part of the challenges we all face.”

Gregor MacCormick, Senior Environmental Health Officer at Highland Council, said: 

Following the success of the project last year, the Council will now continue the project by working with a further 10 urban classified primary schools over the coming months.

“It is important that we do not take good air quality for granted within Highland and this project is part of continuing work with the Scottish Government to raise awareness on local air quality management.”

He added:

“Improvements in air quality within Highland have been seen through traffic management, promotion of travel alternatives, and the introduction of an electric bus fleet within Inverness area.”

There are well known physical health impacts of air pollution, such as asthma, heart disease and cancer.

But more recently, researchers are beginning to understand how air pollution can affect the brain and the mind.

  • Learn: find out more about how air pollution impacts our mental, physical and planet’s health.
  • Act: walk, wheel or use public transport to reduce your exposure and contribution to air pollution. If you drive, try leaving the car behind on Clean Air Day and one day every week.
  • Ask: get in touch with your local Councillor to ask them to support clean air measures that make it easier for you to breathe clean air.

Find out how you can get involved on Clean Air Day by visiting the Clean Air Day website

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