Time to Breathe calls on employers, policy-makers and regulators to start taking seriously the risks associated with ambient air pollution to the health of outdoor workers.
The campaign is providing visual materials to encourage people to stop, think and act to reduce people’s exposure to air pollution. By sharing these images, we can all cut-through the inertia that is putting lives at risk.
Video tips for outdoor workers
These video tips provide general advice on how to reduce your exposure to air pollution. Based on tips offered through Canairy, the British Safety Council and King’s College London mobile app, that has been designed for London-based outdoor workers and their employers.
1. Move away from traffic
Pollution concentrations within a few metres of busy roads are normally 2 or 3 times higher than quieter, back roads. If you can, when pollution increases, change position until the traffic reduces.
2. Reduce your physical activity
The faster you breathe the more airborne pollutants are delivered to your lungs. If you can, during a period of increased pollution, reduce your exertion and the pace of work until a time when the pollution lowers.
3. Changing places
The most extreme levels of air pollution are found in narrow streets lined with tall buildings, which can trap pollutants. If you can, during a period of increased pollution, move to another place to work.
4. Don’t stand too close
Move away from any emissions from work vehicles. If you can, request engines are switched off or report if they are not operating efficiently.
5. If you’re on a bike
If you’re on a bike, change to a low pollution route. Try the mobile app Canairy which uses real-time information about pollution.
6. Screen barriers
Put up a work tent or a screen barrier. We know that even a simple, fold-out work tent or screen barrier can cut your exposure to pollutants by 20%. If you are spending long periods in a stationary position beside a busy road these are a great way to reduce your exposure.
7. Put Ozone in the shade
Ground level Ozone, produced by an interaction of traffic pollution, heat and sunlight, is a particular problem during the Spring and Summer months. If possible, reschedule low-priority outdoor work to another time of the day.
8. Crossing roads, reduce exposure
If you’re constantly crossing busy roads, it’s worth doing the following:
- Stand well back from the kerb while you wait to cross
- Avoid getting stuck for too long on a central reservation
- Cross the road as quickly as possible
9. Masks can help
If you have a mask put it on. Experts tend to argue that most masks have limited value in reducing exposure to air pollution for outdoor workers. However, using one can go towards helping reduce your exposure.
10. Health is also a barrier
There are some things in your own time that can help. A good diet containing antioxidants such as vitamin C (oranges, vegetables etc.) can help protect against some of the effects of pollution.
Smoking is not a good idea, it probably goes without saying! Exercise is a good idea. Pollution attacks heart and respiratory systems, so strengthening them will help protect you.
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