Local Clean Air Champions Needed!

READING BOROUGH COUNCIL is seeking volunteers to become local Air Quality Champions and help spread its clean air and anti-idling message.

On ‘Clean Air Day’ – Thursday 20th June – the Council is holding a ‘no idling day’ and is appealing to local people to come forward and help persuade motorists to switch off their engines.

Volunteers receive training where they learn about the strong link between idling engines and poor health. They will be given tips on how best to approach drivers who have left car engines running, including providing them with information to help them quash some common myths like re-starting your engine burns more fuel than leaving it idling.

Drivers are also invited to become part of the campaign to improve air quality by switching off. The friendly and informative approach has had a 75% success rate when used in other towns or cities.

Volunteering is easy. Go to www.reading.gov.uk/idlingaction to register or to find out more.

Councillor Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“This is an opportunity for anyone worried about air quality issues to do their bit and help us spread the message about the importance of drivers switching off their engines when stationary. It is a chance for people to do something very practical to help improve the air quality in their local area and hopefully feel a sense of satisfaction and community having taken part, either as an individual or in groups alongside friends and neighbours.”

Councillor Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Health, said:

“Despite all the information we know, the reality is that many people still believe the myth that keeping their engine running is better for their vehicle and uses less petrol. Stationary vehicles can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions as when they are moving.

“Unnecessarily running car engines while stationary pollutes the air we breathe, leading to an increased risk of heart disease, lung cancer and asthma attacks. It is also illegal on the highway. I encourage residents to come forward and join us on Clean Air Day, become a Clean Air Champion and help us improve air quality for everyone. ”

Air Quality Champion volunteers will be given a pre-event briefing to cover information about the no idling campaign day, including a recap about our health and safety guidance and they will be provided with high vis vests. Volunteers will go out in pairs to specific zones to ask motorists to join the campaign to improve local air quality and switch off.

Alternatively, air quality champions have the option of facilitating a giant snakes and ladders game which has an air quality theme. People taking part can read the messages on the game as they play, learning about air pollution as they are having fun. Volunteers will hand out leaflets and mini versions of the game to participants and passers-by.

Notes to Editor:

Air quality in Reading is generally good. However, there are key areas close to congested roads where levels of nitrogen dioxide exceed the air quality objectives and where levels of particulates are elevated. Particulates are classified by their mass (PM10 and PM2.5), with the smaller particulates, PM2.5 being more harmful due to their ability to travel further into the lung.

Reading’s annual concentration of fine particulate matter exposure was 10.4 µg/m3, compared to 9.3 µg/m3 for England and 9.8 µg/m3 for the South East England.

In Reading in 2017, the number of estimated deaths linked to air pollution was 63. The levels of the respiratory condition COPD are worse than the national average.

For more information on National Clean Air Day visit: https://www.cleanairday.org.uk/

Oscar Mortali

For media enquiries about this release email oscar.mortali@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 2301