You often can’t see it or smell it, but there are areas of Bath and North East Somerset (Bathnes) that suffer from high levels of air pollution caused by vehicle emissions.
Everyone will benefit from cleaner air, so we’re on a mission to reduce air pollution in the fastest possible time.
But we can’t tackle the problem alone.
Clean air is everyone’s responsibility, so here you’ll find all you need to know about Bath’s air pollution, including what we’re doing to help and what you can do to cut your own NO2 contribution.
The 'Big Walk and Cycle Event' - Clean Air Day 2021
On Thursday 17 June, we’re urging everyone to give their car a day off, and to pledge to walk or cycle to their destination instead! If you can’t walk or cycle, take the bus or train instead of your car or at least share your car journey into the city.
How to take part in the Big Walk and Cycle event:
- Download a pledge card using this Dropbox link, or if that doesn’t work, go to www.cleanairday.org.uk (Free resources/Individuals)
- Take a photo of your pledge to take part e.g. ‘I pledge to cycle to work today!’
- Share your pledge on social media in the run up to Clean Air Day, using hashtags #CleanAirDay and #BathActiveTravel
- On 17 June, remember to walk or cycle to work and share your stories on social
- Get together with friends or colleagues to really make an impact.
Check out our modeshift stories to find out how others are helping our air stay clean
What’s causing air pollution?
- We measure and test for different types of pollution in Bathnes, but we only have a problem with Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), which is caused by vehicle emissions
- In Bathnes, diesel vehicles are the biggest contributors to NO2 pollution
What’s the harm?
High levels of NO2 can cause:
- Inflammation of the airways, coughing and shortness of breath (short-term exposure)
- Worsening of existing lung or heart conditions – including asthma and bronchitis
- Increased susceptibility to allergens and respiratory infections
Unfortunately, poor air quality in Bathnes is harmful to our most vulnerable residents - children, elderly people and those already unwell. For example,12,000 people in the area suffer from asthma, and high levels of pollution can trigger attacks.
Research also links high levels of NO2 with increased possibility of heart attack and dementia, and reduced lung development in children.
Where is the pollution?
- There are several locations in the city of Bath where air pollution (specifically NO2) exceeds legal limits. This is also the case in Temple Cloud, Farrington Gurney, Keynsham High Street and sections of the A4 in Saltford. It’s particularly bad in built up areas.
- While roadside readings are high, drivers and passengers inside cars are exposed to up to 12 times more pollution than those outside, due to trapped fumes circulating inside the vehicle.
What’s the Council doing about air pollution?
We’re working hard to combat air pollution across the area, monitoring roadside emissions, setting up air quality management areas and taking action where required, such as introducing our cycle hire schemes, installing more electric vehicle charge points, and supporting bus operators to retrofit buses to lower their emissions.
We’re also working closely with employers, schools, colleges and universities to encourage more sustainable travel.
Find out more at www.bathnes.gov.uk/airquality
Most importantly, we have introduced a Clean Air Charging Zone (CAZ) in Bath charging all higher emission vehicles except private cars.
On 14 March, Bath & North East Somerset Council passed a resolution to declare a Climate Emergency, as other councils have done in recent months. The resolution can be found here. There is an urgent need to rapidly cut carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels, including from travel and transport.
We’d love your support and one way you can help is by swapping to more sustainable transport. You’ll find lots of information below on clean, green ways to get around to cut your carbon emissions.
How to cut your NO2 contribution
Want to change your travel habits to get clean air for Bath & North East Somerset?
The most obvious ways to cut your contribution to air pollution are to:
- Reduce the number of trips you make by car
- Turn your engine off while you wait
- Choose a lower-emission car or van
- Use public transport and walk, scoot or cycle when you can!
- Try the Park & Ride to get into central Bath
- Share your commute by car
- Consider a car club instead of investing in a car
More tips and support
Walk short journeys
If you can easily walk or cycle, leave your car behind, particularly for short journeys or the school run. It’s healthier for everyone.
Choose public transport
Using public transport, including park & rides cuts congestion and the noxious vehicle emissions that harm health. Next time you head into town, take the bus, or park your car for free at a park & ride. Your journey is often quicker and less stressful on the P&R - and contactless payment is now available.
Choose low-emission vehicles
If you’re buying a new vehicle, test drive a fully electric or lower-emission hybrid electric car and discover the benefits for you and the environment. If you drive a van, remember to check out the Government grants available to help you save money when you go ultra-low.
Plus there's no need to buy a brand new vehicle - second hand low-emission vehicles are also available.
Opt for petrol over diesel
Most of the NO2 pollution in Bath is caused by diesel vehicles. So when it’s time to update your car or van, consider buying a petrol vehicle instead. It doesn’t have to be brand new. Petrol cars and vans from 2006 emit less NO2 than relatively modern diesel vehicles. If you must choose Diesel – go for Euro 6 standard.
If you turn your vehicle’s engine off while dropping people off or waiting, it protects the health of people in and around the car.
- Visit: www.idlingactionbath.org
Go by bike
Cycling is a great way to keep fit and protect our environment from noxious vehicle emissions. If you’ve not been on a bike for a while, check out schemes that let you try before you buy, discover some new safe cycling routes to help you get from A to B, and ensure your children are proficient and safe cyclists.
Car shares & car clubs
Sharing your journey to and from work is a great way to save money, meet new people, reduce pollution and cut congestion. What’s not to love? Ask your employers if they’ve already got a car share portal, or consider starting one.
Another great way to cut car use is to bravely forego your car (or second car) and rely on a low-emission car club for those essential journeys.
How to protect yourself and your family
- Busy roads have more air pollution. If you're walking, choose quieter back streets at busy times.
- Shut the windows in your home at peak times if you live next to busy traffic. Open the windows that don't face the street.
- While roadside readings are high, drivers and passengers inside cars are exposed to up to 12 times more pollution that those outside, due to trapped fumes circulating inside the vehicle.
- Before you reach heavy traffic, close the windows and set the air conditioning to recirculate the air inside, rather than bringing in outdoor air.
- When you leave an area of heavy traffic, open your windows to enable fresh air to circulate.
- To find out whether air pollution is high in your area, you can check our live monitors.
- Remember that indoor pollution can also affect health. For more information on common indoor pollutants, check the Clean Air Day website.
Check your tyres
Correctly inflated tyres will save you money and fuel and reduce air pollution.