More than 200 people died in Liverpool from illnesses related to air pollution in 2010, sparking a successful push for funds to improve city’s air quality
A project to improve Liverpool’s air quality has been backed with a £10k grant after shocking figures revealed the impact toxic emissions could be having on people living in the city.
Official Public Health England statistics estimate 239 people died as a result of illnesses associated with air pollution in Liverpool in 2010 – their lives believed to have been cut short by as much as a combined 2,440 years.
In a bid to improve the city’s air quality, the Liverpool Air Project has now received funding and is calling for local artists, designers, and scientists to get involved.
Despite being a coastal city with a low level of car ownership, it is claimed Liverpool has consistently broken European limits on nitrogen dioxide emissions.
Matt Fox, air pollution project manager for Engage Liverpool, said the bulk of nitrogen dioxide emissions in Liverpool come from transport, specifically diesel-reliant methods of transport like taxis, private vehicles and local buses.
Toxic to humans and animal life, nitrogen dioxide causes acid rain and is linked to acute respiratory illnesses.
“People think they’re doing the right thing by buying a diesel-run vehicle to save on carbon dioxide emissions (but) overwhelmingly, the best thing to do is walk or cycle,” Mr Fox said.
The city has been declared an “Air Quality Management Area” in order to try to tackle the high levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions and the Liverpool Air Project fought off hundreds of schemes to win financial support from the European Cultural Foundation’s Idea Camp.
Run by Engage Liverpool, a social enterprise founded in 2007, the project will bring artists and scientists together to think about air quality and how to engage with the public to improve the quality of the city’s air, possibly through live art events and urban designs.
One solution emerging through research is that green spaces can help clean air, capturing pollutants and providing urban spaces which are far away from busy roads.
Green Walls – vertical walls covered in plants – can also help clean air.
The project will run throughout 2015 and will include an open call for local artists, designers, and scientists to get involved.
Engage Liverpool’s researcher Matthew Fox said: “We need to think deeply about how our behaviour – especially when we drive through the city centre – impacts on those with breathing problems like asthma, and about how air pollution in the city can harm the lungs of young children, who are especially vulnerable.