What you can do

The overwhelming majority of Europeans consider air-quality related diseases a serious problem in their country and believe that new measures should be taken in Europe to address problems related to air quality. But you do not have to wait until the decision-makers take action. There are many changes you can make happen every day which will help to improve the air.

1. Be transport wise

For short distances, try to avoid the use of a car: opt for public transport, walking or cycling. WHO recommends exercising 20 minutes per day, so your sense of well-being, fitness and health will all improve and you will help the environment. For long-distance transfers, opt for the train rather than flying to your destination.

2. Make healthy energy decisions

Switch to energy-efficient domestic appliances, both at home and in your workplace. When choosing your new fridge, oven, boiler, air conditioning system for example, opt for products labelled A+++. You’ll also save money on your energy bills - and perhaps your health bill too! Find out how you can save energy in your home, such as by lowering the overall temperature.

Do not use coal or wood in your cooking and heating stoves if at all possible and do not light a bonfire in your garden. Never burn household waste, especially plastics and rubber.

3. Invest in your local area

Opt for local products to reduce road freight or air transport. Buy goods that are organic: they are produced less intensively, hence causing less pollution.

Last, but not least, plant a tree or demand your municipality for greener areas. Trees clean the air - but bear in mind that there is a pollen risk with certain species for anyone with allergic rhinitis.

Check out your pollen forecast here.

4. Adapt your habits

Check the daily air quality forecast in your area and plan your activities accordingly. Keep in mind that the pollution levels are usually lower in the morning and in the evening. When there is high pollution, try to avoid doing sports or other energetic outdoor activities. Avoid walking or jogging along busy roads and do not exercise near areas with heavy traffic.

On smoggy days, it is better stay indoors and do not open the windows. Also do not ventilate during peak hours if you live near a busy road. Try to avoid living or working next to a busy road.

For people who already suffer from a respiratory disease, it is important to follow their prescribed treatment regularly and always carry the rescue medication.

If you need any tips, try to contact a patient organisation active in your area such as members of EFA and/or HEAL.

You can also keep an eye on the pollution forecast here.

5. Health bonus from less climate change

By helping to reduce air pollution, you will also help to mitigate climate change. This is because when air pollutants fall so do carbon emissions. Preventing climate change matters for health in Europe as it will help avoid more frequent heat waves, longer allergy seasons, flooding and forest fires, all of which are a particular menace for children and the elderly as well as for patients with allergy, asthma and other lung and heart ailments.

6. Clean air indoors

In order to improve the quality of the indoor air, there should be no smoking indoors. People should also regularly ventilate, control and properly maintain their ventilation systems as well as checking their gas appliances, cleaning their chimneys when using open fires, prevent water leaks, use building materials with low emissions and take care when using chemicals in the home.

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