Air quality in focus for next generations on Clean Air Day 2022

  16 June 2022
Schools, businesses, local authorities and other organisations across Scotland, and beyond, are taking part in Clean Air Day – a national air quality campaign. Now in its sixth year, Clean Air Day’s theme is ‘Air pollution impacts our health from our first breath to our last’.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is educating young people about the detrimental impacts of air pollution and what can be done to tackle it as part of Clean Air Day.  

Schools, businesses, local authorities and other organisations across Scotland, and beyond, are taking part in Clean Air Day – a national air quality campaign. Now in its sixth year, Clean Air Day’s theme is ‘Air pollution impacts our health from our first breath to our last’. 

Air quality sensors are being installed at a number of schools, at their request, across Scotland this week (June 13 – 17) as part of SEPA’s work. These will allow pupils to access real time air quality data, identifying issues such as vehicle idling around pick-up and drop-off times or even regional pollution events depending on the weather. The pupils will then use this information to help put into practice positive actions they are learning through SEPA and Glasgow Science Centre’s ‘Our Amazing Air’ education programme to reduce air pollution. 
 
Over the last six weeks as part of ‘Our Amazing Air’, youngers have been taking part in bespoke lessons and experiments about air pollution, how it affects our health and the environment and what positive steps can be taken to tackle the issue. This project has been delivered in conjunction with Glasgow Science Centre, as part of its long running partnership with SEPA.  

SEPA has contributed to teaching materials for ‘Our Amazing Air’, with air quality experts visiting some of the participating schools and speaking directly to pupils about these issues. The pupils have  been keen to ask the experts about the serious issues and impacts around air quality and to discuss the practical measures that can be put in place to reduce overall pollution levels. The children have also been busy producing artwork and colourful banners to be displayed outside their schools.

Dr Colin Gillespie, SEPA’s Air Modelling Unit Manager, said: “Good air quality is essential for a good quality of life, helping maintain human health and wellbeing and our climate and habitats. It is also vital in our work towards becoming a net zero nation.  

“There are many ways to improve air quality but, like climate change, it is vital to involve younger generations and inform them about the issues facing our environment today.  
 
“Everyone has a part to play in helping to improve air quality and tackle pollution – and education is a vital part of this. SEPA works with local authorities and schools across the country to promote, educate and inform about air pollution. This year’s ‘Our Amazing Air’ programme was a great way to teach children about air pollution, how it impacts our health and the environment and what positive steps we can take. 

“Clean Air Day gives everyone an important opportunity to consider how we can change or adapt our behaviour to improve the quality of our air and spread the positive message about the benefits of clean air.” 

John Bynorth, Policy and Communications Officer at Environmental Protection Scotland, which coordinates Clean Air Day on behalf of the Scottish Government, said: “We are delighted with SEPA’s work to promote efforts for children to learn about air quality across schools in Scotland on Clean Air Day.

“These citizen science projects help young people better understand air pollution impacts and pollution sources. This contributes to their households making informed choices about the simple steps they can take to reduce their contribution and exposure to pollution and encourage cycling and walking.

“There is an ever-increasing body of evidence that suggests air pollution affects every part of the human body, from the lungs and heart to the brain, and even during pregnancy. On Clean Air Day, we can all do something to cut air pollution to benefit our health and the planet. On June 16, let us all work together to make Scotland’s air quality the best in Europe.”

Air pollution monitoring 
 
SEPA initially started educational work around air pollution monitoring with a national teaching package (www.learnaboutair.com), that was developed with North Lanarkshire Council. Through the years, SEPA has extended its work into the classrooms up and down the country, working with more than half of Scotland’s local authorities on air pollution monitoring and educational projects.  
 
Where possible, SEPA has been undertaking air quality monitoring around schools (on request or in partnership with local authorities) and this information is provided to allow pupils to learn about air pollution and how they can take steps to reduce air pollution around their schools.  

Notes For Editors: 

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Environmental Protection Scotland  

  • Clean Air Day, now in the sixth year, is a national air quality campaign which is coordinated across the UK, by Global Action Plan. In Scotland, the event is coordinated by Environmental Protection Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, which in 2021 launched the Cleaner Air for Scotland 2 (CAFS2) strategy, ‘Towards a Better Place for Everyone.
  • The CAFS2 strategy can be found here: Cleaner Air for Scotland 2 - Towards a Better Place for Everyone - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
  • Environmental Protection Scotland is an impartial, academic-based charity that aims to build a cleaner, quieter, and sustainable Scotland. Find out more here ep-scotland.org.uk
  • The first National Clean Air Day took place on 15th June 2017. In 2018, it became known as Clean Air Day and since then has grown in stature with more and more events and participants.
  • The Clean Air Day Scotland resources can be found here: https://www.actionforcleanair.org.uk/campaigns/clean-air-day/scotland

SEPA – Air Quality  

  • Further educational resources for schools can be found at http://www.learnaboutair.com/
  • SEPA works closely with partner organisations such as local authorities, Cycling Scotland, and Living Streets to coordinate and contribute to local and national active travel campaigns which help improve air quality and change behaviours.
  • SEPA is one of the partners in the Clean Air for Scotland (CAFS) strategy with a statutory role in helping councils report on and comply with legal requirements for air quality in their areas - Air Quality in Scotland scottishairquality.scot . SEPA also embeds conditions to control air pollution from industrial activities in many regulatory permits to ensure the ongoing protection of communities and the environment.
  • SEPA has developed a National Modelling Framework (NMF), with the aim to provide a standardised approach to assist those local authorities developing Low Emission Zones and to develop a regional model to assess the potential impacts of future land development at local and regional levels. This is a key element of delivering CAFS, which provides the ability to prioritise actions and support the selection of measures to tackle air pollution, supporting the implementation of Scotland’s Low Emission Zones (LEZs).