Sustainability Sunday #17

Why the UK’s Mediterranean temperatures are making you cough… 

It finally feels like spring might be here. Around the city tights are off, shirt sleeves are rolled and it’s not just the tourists eating ice creams. There’s no doubt we’ve been waiting out a long old winter for this.

However, if you’re living in a particularly polluted area, *ahem* London, then being outside in the dreamy sunshine is going to make you more thirsty and more susceptible to getting a cough. Why?

Sunlight activates the photochemicals in polluted air. These photochemicals, when combined with pollutants from cars such as nitrogen oxide, form a big toxic cloud that we can only see as a hazy skyline across urban areas. This causes even the healthiest of people to get a little frog in their throat or experience shortness of breath, particularly if it’s breezy.


Air pollution is said to be responsible for around 40,000 deaths across the UK each year. You may have recently seen snaps of Greenpeace’s daring protestors climbing statues across London to affix dust masks to their faces, the campaign aimed to emphasise the impact of air pollution and encourage the new mayor to make a clean air action plan. 

With Sadiq Khan newly elected as the London Mayor, we can hope for this to change though, right? 

Mayor Khan has promised to “restore London’s air quality to legal and safe levels” which he believes is one of the most pressing environmental challenges. He initially intends to implement pedestrianisation of busy areas such as Oxford street and create “Clean Bus Corridors” for clean tech buses, a good start believe but you can read more here to decide for yourself.

What can you do about it? Well, on these sunny days why don’t you get on a Boris bike (a Sadiq Cycle?!), walk around London, head to a green space or hang out local? That way you might get a little fresh air through the trees too…

My local: The Crabtree Pub, Rainville Road, W6

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