Peadiatric doctor, Nadia Audhali, talks about Clean Air Day (8th October) and what activities our team at Whipps Cross got up to to mark the day.
I love my car. I really do. But as a paediatrician working at Whipps Cross in the Emergency Department the mounting evidence has challenged me to leave my car at home even on this rainy day and cycle to work.
Why? Well, for National Clean Air Day, which provided a great excuse to talk to colleagues and patients about air pollution, it’s impact on our health, and what we can do to avoid that impact.
40,000 deaths in UK each year are related to air pollution. Increased asthma and chest infections, increased premature deliveries, and increased risk of dementia, are the some of the avoidable problems due to our dirty London air.
So, along with two team members from Green@Barts (the staff green interest group, which supports the work of the hospital’s sustainability team), we hit the canteen to hand out information and have conversations about air pollution and how to reduce it’s effects.
As a children’s doctor, and a mum, I feel very strongly about speaking up for children’s health, and it is often tiny undeveloped lungs that are most at risk from toxic air caused by diesel and petrol driving. Alongside this is the fact that they are at head height to exhaust pipes makes them especially vulnerable.
During lockdown many of us living near main roads really noticed the cleaner air from reduced vehicles and rush hour idling traffic. Clean air is as important to our health as clean water.
As part of our day of outreach as roving clean air champions, we talked to staff from all parts of the hospital and even got the kids on Acorn ward to draw us some pictures about what Clean Air Day meant to them (as seen below).
As staff at Whipps Cross we have a lot to be proud of in terms of the hospital’s commitment to clean air, the hospital is signed up to the Hospitals Clean Air Framework, and all transport and ambulances now have a 'no idling, no excuses' rule.
Above photo: (L-R) Nadia Audhali, Charlotte Munro, Claire Davies
But to really make a difference we need everyone working together to tackle this problem, and supporting local and national government initiatives such as the Ultra Low Emission Zone.
Please consider making a pledge to any of the actions below, knowing that if we all decide to prioritise health and clean air we can really make a difference to our own health and the health of our children.
- Cycle, walk or take public transport and only use a car when absolutely necessary
- Avoid busy roads and rush hour traffic and seek quieter less polluted streets
- If you do have to drive make sure you avoid idling and turn off engine if stationary for a minute or more
For more information:
UKHACC – UK Health Alliance on Climate Change
Join Green@Barts : firstname.lastname@example.org