2020-10-08 12:11

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Today 8th October Is Clean Air Day 2020

Air pollution kills over 40,000 people die each year in the UK where the outdoor air that they breathe
is a major contributory factor.

Thousands of people will also die because of occupational diseases caused by air pollution at work. Pollution arising from work and travel to work are health issues for which employers take little responsibility.

There is hardly any recognition of this in national and local authority strategies. This is an issue for workers and their families at all stages from before birth to old age and particularly damaging the growth and development of babies and children.

These are the stark words of the Trade Union Clean Air Network.

Set up in February 2019, by the Greener Jobs Alliance and GM Hazards, the organisation is supported by many trade unions; and aims to ensure public debate and campaign for legislation and resource from Government and local authorities to tackle this human-made crisis in air quality.

Amongst its resources it provides support for Union Safety Reps and indeed also industrial union reps. The guide pictured to the right is a major resourse and has been available direct from this website's E-Library and from the Greener Jobs Alliance.

This month GM Hazards wrote to union safety reps on it's mailing list advising of the availability of a new portable air pollution detection equipment. They are looking for union health and safety reps who need help in investigating potential hazards at their workplace.

As stated in the TUCAN Newsletter No2 issued last Spring:

The SidePak Model AM520 portable air pollution detector, measures airborne dust pollutants including PM2.5 particles from diesel engines which are recognised as a major health hazard. [This is also the size of Covid-19 virus particles]

They can cause respiratory problems and are so small they can cross into the bloodstream, even crossing to the unborn child. Particulate and other air pollution are recognised as a source of cancer and dementia.

The new kit is reasonably compact and fairly straightforward to use and that expertise will be provided by TUCAN along with a report on what the monitoring discovered. Union reps can then take the information to their employer for discussion on how any concerns that arise can be addressed. The equipment can be used as a personal sampler, measuring from an individual’s breathing zone, or measuring the general environment from a fixed place.

Also key to addressing this issue is the Environment Bill which has stalled in Partliament because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Government's criminal incompoetency in handling the crisis, caused by it's contracting private companies to do the work of the NHS and to supply the appropriate PPE. The Test & Trace system is a perfect example of the failure of the private sector whilst billions of pounds in contracts has been awarded to those private companies supporting the Tory party, e.g. Serco, PPE Medpro, G4S to name just three!

Greener UK started a campaign earlier this week to preessurise the Government into bringing back the Environment Bill, which it still hasn't done, despite numerous promkises to do so.

Monday 5th October saw 200 days since the Bill was paused due to the pandemic.

However, since then the government has repeatedly said it was going to bring it back as soon as possible but it seems to instead be bringing in other new bits of draconian legislation, e.g. Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill, a programme motion has now changed the date for when the committee will report to the 1st December. Whilst it is hoped that the Bill will start back mid-October (and maybe they’ll make some announcement next week) there still isn't a date for it to restart; making it highly unlikely that it will pass in time for the end of the transition period as originally required.

Pic: BLF write to your mp campaign logoIntrinsic to making a difference to the levels of air pollution that kills, is inlcuding WHO guidelines for PM2.5 in the Environment Bill. Both Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation have formed a partnership to promote and lobby for this when the Bill does finally return.

Also, please take part in a survey produced by Global Action Plan seeking to determine the extent to which air quality is a significant issue in the workplace. Answers to the survey will be used to inform the project into clean air workplaces and will remain anonymous. Take part here

It is important to take action and not just read this article. You can write to your MP asking them to clean up our air and change our air pollution laws for the better. This is the British Lung Foundation's campaign page which will take only 2 mins to fill in: https://hello.blf.org.uk Or click on the above left pic.

You can get more information on all of this from the following websites:

Asthma UK: asthma.org.uk

British Lung Foundation: blf.org.uk

Greener Jobs Alliance: greenerjobsalliance.co.uk/air-pollution/

Client Earth: clientearth.org

GM Hazards: gmhazards.org.uk

Source: BLf / GM Hazards / Greener Jobs Alliance / TUCAN

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