On the 8th October, people around the world will be celebrating Clean Air Day, and working to help make the air on Planet Earth better for the people, animals and plants that live on it.
The importance of clean air
It’s easy to take the air we breathe for granted. We often don’t even think about it, even though it’s everywhere.
The average person takes over 17,000 breaths a day. That means over 8.6 litres of air passing into and out of our lungs. Air contains many elements such as nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide, and it’s essential for life.
For us humans, the oxygen in air is important for the chemical reactions in our cells that give us energy and power us. For plants, it’s the carbon dioxide that’s important, helping fuel photosynthesis which is what gives them their energy.
In fact, probably the only times we really think about the air we breathe is when something in it affects us. Some of this can be relatively benign; hay fever is a good example, when the air contains pollen particles from plants that can aggravate our noses, throats and eyes, causing us to sneeze and snuffle. Pollution is another example; we’ve all coughed and spluttered when a car has gone past and left a trail of exhaust fumes in its wake, or crinkled our noses at the smell of a busy road.
But some of these pollutants in the air can have a much more serious effect than just smelling bad. Air pollution can make people sick, it can cause death, and we all know it has a serious effect on the climate of our planet.
Certain chemicals or pollutants in the air can cause lung disease or aggravate conditions like asthma. It can affect the health of plants, or lead to things like acid rain which can cause plants to grow poorly or even die, which in turn has an effect on the animals and insects that rely on them for food and shelter. And pollutants like higher-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide can lead to global climate change, causing sea levels to rise or extreme weather events like storms and floods and fires to become more common.
But we CAN work to fix this.
A special message from Dr Jane Goodall
What is Clean Air Day?
Clean Air Day is all about working together to clean up the air we breathe, celebrate those who are taking action and inspiring more people to join in. It will be a day of talks and events, free assemblies, plenty of free downloadable resources and best of all it’s all available online so everyone, everywhere can take part.
It is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign, and brings together schools, businesses, communities, charities and the health sector to raise awareness of how pollution affects our health, and take action to help clean up our air.
Date: 8th October 2020
Time: 10am to 5.30pm BST
Where: Clean Air Day website
You can sign up to receive a reminder about specific events and talks you’d like to join in with, and there are also loads of downloadable resources you can use now and in the lead up to the day to spread the word and get more people involved!
Clean Air Day line up
There are some incredible discussions, events, debates and information sessions suitable for a range of different age groups happening all day. The virtual school assembly is the perfect way to kick off the day, with schools from all across the UK (and maybe even the world!) joining in. There will be advice on how to campaign for clean air, examples of campaigns that are happening, and plenty of thought-provoking discussions on topics like the link between air quality and social inequality.
You’ll be hearing from a huge range of brilliant speakers, such as air quality journalist Pippa Neill, Jon Fairburn who is Professor of Sustainable Development at Staffordshire University, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah who is a World Health Organisation public advocate for health and air quality, and Sufiyan Abdul-Qayum, the youngest member of Clean Air for Southall and Hayes group.
So take a look through the programme, visit the Clean Air Day website for more information, and get ready to watch, be inspired and take action!
10.00 – Welcome to Clean Air Day by Global Action Plan’s Director of Clean Air Larissa Lockwood
10.15 – Virtual School Assembly
10.30 – Clean Air School Framework presentation and Q&A
11.15 – Campaigning
12.00 – Nocado campaign
12.30 – Unequal Air
14.30 – How can the health sector tackle air pollution
15.30 – How many cars do we need?
16.15 – Clean air workplaces for healthier employees
17.00 – Clean air celebration event
18.30 – Clean Air for All; COVID-19, clean air and mobility event
- BBC Bite Size – cardio respiratory volume; how much we breathe and how often
- World Health Organisation – Air Pollution resources
- National Geographic – Air Pollution resources
- UK Government DEFRA – effects of air pollution