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It would be a real shame if air quality returned to normal after the lockdown

Sarah, a member of the Clean Air Parents’ Network in Liverpool, talks about her experiences of air quality during the lockdown, her concerns for her family’s health as a result of air pollution, and why she’s campaigning for cleaner air.

Weeks of lockdown restrictions due to the global coronavirus pandemic have seen a reduction in traffic on the roads which has inevitably resulted in improvements in air quality. The roads are quieter, the air feels cleaner, and my son has noticed significant changes in his asthma symptoms.

We live on a busy road in Liverpool which sees extremely high volumes of traffic, the main source of air pollution in towns and cities. Vehicles create pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter that irritate my son’s airways and trigger his asthma symptoms. The effect can range from irritated airways and feeling out of breath, to a full-blown asthma attack.

Changes during the lockdown

During the lockdown, we have noticed clearer skies, and the road outside has been much quieter. Before the restrictions went into place, I knew that the best thing I could do to reduce my son’s exposure to air pollution was to avoid main roads and busy streets, but it was very hard because we lived on one. Now that the traffic has reduced, it’s much safer for him to play outside in our garden. It is usually advised that people with lung conditions, like my son, reduce or avoid strenuous, outdoor exercise on days when pollution levels are high, but why should he be stopped from exercising or taking part in games? It would be a real shame if air quality returned to normal after the lockdown.

Finding a long-term pollution solution

I am campaigning for long-term, sustainable solutions to clean up the air in my area, and nationally, which is why I joined the Clean Air Parents' Network. Since I joined 18 months ago, I have had access to a network of parents and carers across the country who are working with decision-makers to make sure air pollution is prioritised. As a family, we even visited parliament where we asked MPs to put pressure on the government to clean up the air everywhere, especially where we live in Liverpool.

It is more important than ever to clean up the air around us, and it’s worth thinking about how we can maintain the low levels of pollution we have seen recently, as the restrictions are eased and lifted. My children are at risk of developing further problems because of their exposure to pollution – preventing further long-term health effects by cleaning up the air needs to be a national priority. We need to act now to lock in these improvements as we start to return to normal life.

Want to get involved?

If you’re concerned about how air pollution levels are affecting your child’s health, why not sign up to join the Clean Air Parents' Network and we’ll keep in touch with ways you can campaign for clean air nationally and in your local area.

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8 June 2020