How to look after your health

Despite improvements in air quality in the UK over recent decades, current levels of air pollution continue to have a significant effect on health. Both long and short-term exposure to air pollution are known to adversely affect health and air pollution is still the largest environmental risk linked to deaths every year. 

  • Over 100 deaths a year in Southampton are attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution
  • Air pollution has the same equivalent impact as passive smoking
  • Particulates are known to contribute to heart disease and lung cancer
  • Air pollution can affect some individuals who are more vulnerable to harm, including those with heart and lung diseases, (including asthma) children and the elderly

The Defra website has greater details around the health effects of pollution.

What can you do to protect your health?

  • Walk or cycle because on an average day, that will expose you to lower levels of pollution than if you use a car
  • You can sign up to high pollution alerts on the Southampton Air website. The government's Daily Air Quality Index (DAQI) is also available, which gives national pollution updates and forecasts

On days when there are high levels of air pollution in the city:

  • Reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outside if you have problems with your heart or lungs, and especially if you experience any symptoms
  • People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often
  • Older people should reduce physical exertion on these days