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Leave to breathe

New data reveal the social impact of air pollution – with 48% of young people considering leaving cities in search of cleaner air
Ultra low emission ULEZ Zone sign, London

New research, commissioned by Enjoy the Air, has revealed 29% of the public would consider moving to another city for better air quality – rising to a staggering 48% amongst those aged 18-24.
  
The survey of 4,000 UK adults identified Londoners as the most likely to join the exodus from cities, with nearly two in five (39%) considering moving for cleaner air. This could mean a loss of nearly 3.5 million people from the capital.
 
The West Midlands, with Britain’s second-largest city, Birmingham, had the second-highest response, with 36% of respondents saying they would consider moving.

The figure drops to 29% of North West residents, covering Manchester and Liverpool. 
  
In contrast, just 28% of Scots would consider a move, as the country met legal limits for air pollution in 2022 for the first time.

Finding information on local pollution

The poll also found that young people are more aware of the health impacts of dirty air, with 46% of 18- to 24-year-olds experiencing air pollution-related symptoms on their breathing.

Despite being the most vulnerable population, just 28% of those over 65 years old reported feeling the effects.

Polluting vehicles were identified as a leading cause, with 38% of respondents feeling a direct ill-effect on their breathing.

However, just 13% of the population are aware of how to access information on local pollution levels. 
  
As a result, over half of Londoners (53%) support clean air zones, despite recent controversy around Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ).

Willing to vote with feet

The survey by Yonder was commissioned by Enjoy the Air, which demonstrates the cause and effect of air pollution and the risk to the public’s health based on where they live.

Enjoy the Air recently launched HALO Certification, rewards cities across the UK that meet the Environment Act 2021 and continue to improve and mitigate air quality. 

‘It is staggering that nearly half of the young population are willing to vote with their feet in pursuit of cleaner air and improved wellbeing. In the UK, air pollution is a silent killer responsible for thousands of unnecessary deaths each year. The effects of rising levels of particulate matter on those living in major cities is clear to see in this research.

‘With just 13% of the public aware of how to access information on local pollution levels, more must now be done to bring air pollution levels down within WHO recommended limits and to increase transparency in local communities. Improved collaboration between government and experts in the field will support a speedier transition to clean air for all.’

KATE BARNARD
Founder and CEO of Enjoy the Air

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