What is in the air that shouldn't be there?

All sorts! The top 7 nasties will be on the next 7 slides. Just to enthuse you they are : CO, NO2, O3, PM10, PM2.5, SO2, VOCs and lead !!

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READ ON!! Dont be put off with scientific acronyms - read on - its in plain English and it may save your life!

What is CO and what does it do?

CO - Carbon Monoxide. 90% caused by transport. In the home you can't see it, you can't smell it and it has no taste - but it can give you brain damage or even kill you. Not to be underestimated.

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Walk more, cycle more, use public transport and go on holiday in the UK (which will help our economy!). In the home you really need to invest in a Carbon Monoxide detector if you value your life.

What is NO2 and what does it do?

NO2 - Nitrogen Dioxide. 50% caused by transport, 25% by power stations. At home - your gas stove. Not nice for those with breathing problems. It can cause wheezing, coughing, colds etc., but if you have asthma it can cause more frequent and intense asthma attacks.

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Keep fresh air flowing within your home - this will reduce the density of NO2 from the stove, oven or boiler.
You can signup to Air Text to receive SMS, voicemail or email alerts if the air quality in your area gets really bad.

What is O3 and what does it do?

O3 - Low Level Ozone. Produced by sunlight acting on vehicle exhaust fumes. It can cause eye and lung irritation, lowers resistance to infection, not good if you have asthma. it can poison plants.

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Maintaining your car (oil filter, tyre pressure) can reduce pollution and save you money. Filling up with petrol at night can reduce O3 because air pollution is less lightly at night - weird! Try to avoid using your car on your own.
Simple changes will improve air quality, reduce the number of people with breathing problems and asthma, and reduce the cost of running the NHS!

What is PM10 & PM2.5 and what does it do?

PM10 - Particulate Matter < 10µm (particles likely to be inhaled by humans). Produced by vehicle exhaust - diesels produce more. Its not good if you have asthma or breathing problems. It can irritate your eyes, nose, throat, lungs, and can effect the heart and blood hence reduce your life expectancy.

PM2.5 - Particulate Matter < 2.5µm - very small, very dangerous and on the increase thanks to Biomass burning.

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Reduce cooking, burning candles, and smoking will greatly reduce the particle levels in a home. Hoovering with a cleaner that does not have a dust filter will stir up and greatly increase particle levels in the air.

What is SO2 and what does it do?

SO2 - Sulphar Dioxide. Produced by burning fossil fuels (coal and oil) at power stations. Volcanos produce their fare share!! When its mixed with rain it makes Acid rain. Yet again, its not good for asthma sufferers or people with breathing problems. It can irritate your eyes and lungs.

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Reduce the demand on power stations by using less electricity. Watch less TV!! Use Energy saving light bulbs. Unplug unused phone chargers and other adaptors. Relocate the fridge away from the oven! (Believe it or not, a full fridge will use less energy then an empty one! So as it empties, fill it with old newspapers!!)

What is VOCs and what does it do?

VOCs - Volatile Organic Compounds. Produced by cars, solvents, and strangely vegetables. Butane, ethanol, propane, and white spirit are all contributors. The particles are bad for asthma sufferers and can reduce life expectancy. It also damages plants and effects the sun rays getting to the plants (photosynthesis).

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Make sure the lids on bottles that give off fumes are on properly.

What is Lead and what does it do?

Lead levels in the UK have dropped since unleaded petrol was introduced. Exposure to breathing in higher levels of lead has been associated with low IQs and slow development.
So the country is benefiting from more intelligent children, hence more people can now go on to further education and universities then ever before! WOW!!

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Give yourself a pat on the back for choosing unleaded petrol. With less lead in the air you can feel your IQ going up up up!

Who is monitoring what is in the air over Greenwich?

King's College London have 9 monitoring stations in the Borough. DEFRA monitor air at the Nature Study Centre, Eltham. See how the borough compares with the rest of the world on the AQICN website.

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If you suffer from severe asthma, then you may want to keep an eye on these web sites so that you can possibly reduce the risk of having a bad asthma attack due to high amounts of nasties in the air.

What next for Greenwich?

There is not much we can do with the transport that just passes through the borough except try and get it through as fast as possible and reduce traffic jams.
With the development of the Thames Gateway, the roads are doomed to being more conjested. But, the new DLR station at Woolwich, and the New Crossrail stations at Woolwich and Abbeywood will improve things considerably.

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Please consider using public transport more, especially if you are making a journey on your own or the distance is walkable. If we all do our little bit we will make a difference!