It is estimated that as many as 40,000 deaths each year are caused by the air we breathe when we are out and about.

Key causes of outdoor air pollution include: 

  1. General public driving cars, especially diesel cars
  2. Cars not being well maintained and tyres not being properly inflated
  3. Emissions from deliveries  (pdf) 
  4. Open fires and stoves (pdf)

Here are some top things you can do to reduce and avoid outdoor air pollution:

1 Use your feet and leave the car at home

Walk, cycle, bus, train ... However you like to travel, leave your car at home and take to the streets. Amazingly, car drivers can be exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist. So as well as cutting down the amount of pollution you make, you're reducing you exposure to air pollution and getting some exercise too. 

2 Drive into the future and test drive an electric vehicle

With cars, vans and lorries responsible for so much air pollution, low-emission electric vehicles (EVs) are the future - and their costs over a lifetime are cheaper than you might think. So when you upgrade your car, explore an electric, hybrid or LPG model (to save on your road tax too). Find out more about EVs and book yourself a test drive at Go Ultra Low.

3 Discover the side streets

Using quieter streets when you’re on a bike or on foot can lower your exposure to air pollution by 20%.

4 Avoid strenuous activity when pollution is high

There are about 10 to 20 high pollution days a year when it’s better to avoid working out too hard if you have a heart or lung condition. You can check the pollution in your area for free here. But on balance, for most people, most of the time, it is healthier to exercise than sit it out.

5 Switch your engine off when stationary

Not going anywhere fast? By turning off your car engine whenever you’re not moving – and it’s safe to do so – you’ll help to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians. 

6 Make the courier do the carrying

Many city workplaces report that half of all deliveries are personal parcels for staff. That’s a whole lot of extra vans clogging up the city – and people still have to carry their parcels home. Delivery companies now have clever ways to save you carrying parcels too far – like pick-up points in corner shops or lockers in train stations. There are thousands of locations around the UK, with a handy map available here.

7 Save the wood-burning stove for the bleak winter

Wood-burning stoves look great and they’re so cosy. But burning wood produces a lot of air pollutants. To minimise your contribution to air pollution buy a Defra-approved stove, use authorised fuel, and only light it when you really really have to. 

8 Give your car a holiday

There are some easy ways to use your car less, like car-sharing or working from home one day a week. And they quickly become part of your routine. Just swap face-to-face meetings for video conferencing, and sitting on your own in traffic for chatting to your colleagues. Plus you can have a lie-in, pick up the kids from school, go for an early meal… and make the air cleaner for everyone.

9 Regularly service your car 

Remember to service your car regularly to make sure it runs as efficiently and cleanly as possible.

10 Consume less energy = produce less pollution

Gas and electricity are big contributors to air pollution. Gas creates fumes when we burn it to heat our homes, and electricity produced by power stations burning fossil fuels has the same result. There are lots of things you can do to conserve energy (and lower your bills), such as switching off the lights, filling the kettle with just what you need, and only running the washing machine and dishwasher when you have a full load.

11 Keep your car tyres inflated

Yep, having properly-inflated tyres really means your car will be more efficient and use less fuel. Great for the environment and great for your pocket too.

12 Recycle your compostables

Rather than burning your garden waste, compost it and turn it into food for your vegetable patch.

What are your plans for Clean Air Day? Why not walk or cycle to work or school - and if you already do this, organise an event? For more information on how to do this in your community, at work or in school, download one of our free toolkits.