A new website has been launched to raise awareness of air pollution in Essex and highlight the simple actions people can take to reduce emissions and help protect themselves and their families.
The new EssexAir website has been created by Essex County Council on behalf of the Essex Air Quality Consortium. This is a partnership of the 12 district, borough and city councils in Essex, as well as the county council and two unitary councils.
The website includes a dedicated school zone, with helpful resources, a series of activities for young people, and two interactive online games to help them learn about the different types and sources of air pollution.
It also features an air pollution map and tips for how residents can help reduce their emissions and exposure to air pollution. It includes advice on changing how and when they travel and advice on how to lessen their exposure to indoor air pollutants.
Air pollution is recognised as the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK and is linked to up to 36,000 deaths each year. It reduces life expectancy by causing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and lung cancer and can exacerbate existing health conditions, such as asthma.
In Essex, 5.5% of deaths in the county (almost 900 deaths) in 2021 were attributable to air pollution.
Councillor John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Health, Adult Social Care and ICS Integration, said: “Across the county, the quality of the air we breathe outdoors has been gradually improving, but we mustn’t be complacent.
“We know there are some real hotspots, and it is great to have a source of information and education like this website.
“We are increasingly turning our minds to indoor air quality; it can cost nothing to improve ventilation and reduce the sources of pollution at home.”
Councillor Peter Schwier, Essex County Council Climate Czar and Cabinet Member for Environment, Waste Reduction and Recycling, said: “As part of the Essex Air Quality Consortium, we are working closely with all of the councils in Essex to help tackle air pollution and raise awareness of the small steps we can all take to reduce our own emissions and help make the air we breathe cleaner and healthier.
“I am delighted the new EssexAir website has now been launched and would encourage everyone to visit the site and consider what simple actions they could take to help improve air quality in Essex.”
The new Essex Air website was funded through The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Air Quality Grant scheme.
The funding awarded to Essex County Council was also used to undertake air quality monitoring around primary schools in Essex within 1km of an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). It has also been used to run an interactive education programme, Abbie Ayre and the Shed of Science.
The programme, which was run by Performance in Education, toured almost 100 of the county’s primary schools, teaching more than 5,000 pupils about air pollution through theatrical performances and workshops.
The council is also currently developing a new Essex Air Quality Strategy, which it plans to consult on next year.
The new EssexAir website is available at www.essexair.org.uk.