10 September 2019 We attended this event at City Hall along with other organisations and community groups concerned about air quality. It was noted that we’re now 6 months in to the first phase of the ULEZ and it will be expanded in October 2021.
Victoria Secretan, from a similar sounding, but not the same, group Clean Air Brent, spoke about raising awareness of air pollution in their area and providing local knowledge to those who can make change happen. They are setting up a Clean Air passport with Brent Council and are calling on Brent to be a leading borough in air pollution. They have an initiative with 6 formers at secondary schools using LSX materials.
Afsana Salik, from St Mary’s College, had organised some Citizen Science and noted issues with idling, enforcing speed limits and driving short distances.
Rosamund Adoo-Kissi Debrah, mother of Ella and co-Founder of the Ella Roberta Family Foundation, was meant to be speaking in Parliament today, had it not been for the proroguing of Parliament. She’s trying to get a Clean Air Bill through Parliament. Her daughter Ella suffered from one of the worst cases of asthma in the UK and her death at just 9 years old has been put down to air pollution. She highlighted that the communities most effected by air pollution, in the poorest areas, aren’t at the table. She said that Councils need to ban building houses directly beside or close to busy roads, as pollution is so harmful to human health. In 2017, there were 237 deaths from asthma, in 2018, there were 438 deaths. There are currently 2400 children with asthma in London. Ella was 1 of 27 who died that year. Rosamund is calling on the Government and Local Authorities to take action. People need to get angry. She pointed out that the 38th week in the year is the worst time for hospital admissions. This really is a matter of life or death.
David Smith, aka Little Ninja, spoke about kids needing to fight like little ninjas against harmful particulates in our air. He pointed out that pollution is heavy, and concentrated just 60cm from ground level, so children by default are nearest to pollution. Pollution is at its highest during the school run. Children breathe more rapidly than adults. They’re scooting, but this is exercising in dirty air. Bus stops are next to the curb, right next to traffic. There’s a high increase in asthma in children, reduced lung capacity, quality of life and life expectancy. Many people live on the polluted North and South Circular roads, even in 2 years time, the ULEZ won’t have effected these roads. Children are being poisoned. TfL say that an idling car creates twice that of a moving one. Even a couple of meters of separation will reduce pollution by 5 times. Trees for Cities and Lancaster University are looking at hedges to create soft barriers, and also pollution meshes, which act as an instant barrier and the particulates wash off in the rain. Speed bumps can increase NO2 by 1000%.
Hester from R-Urban, was using mosses to filter air pollution. She explained that moss is a primitive plant and takes pollution from the air as they have holes in it, making a rigid vacuum, and grows like a natural filter. It can be grown on to a gel and acts like a carbon filter. Birmingham University is also looking at Ivy as particulates stick to it and then wash off in the rain.
Another interesting company, Radic8, produces clean air technology for indoor environments. They have various products which filter out harmful pollutants in our air.