The BBC Environmental Analyst Roger Harrabin reveals how covid-19 restrictions will continue to affect air pollution in the winter months.
While fewer people are travelling to offices and places of work during the various tiers of lockdown, many are now using cars when previously they would have taken buses or trains. Single car use is likely to increase further when biking, cycling, and walking no longer becomes an attractive option during the colder, wetter and darker months.
Home workers and heating
Employees and business owners are being are encouraged to work from home due to Covid-19 restrictions, which is expected to see a rise in boiler use of approximately 56%.
Boilers already account for 21% of total NOx emissions across Greater London and similar figures can be seen in areas across the country.
The study from the think tank ECIU says the increase in energy use could result in an additional 12% of NOx emissions in both towns and cities – which could offset the last two years’ worth of progress on reducing traffic emissions.
Remote working increasing energy bills by £32/month
The increase in boiler use will also affect remote workers’ monthly outgoings as energy bills will increase by an average of £32/month. Although their back pockets shouldn’t suffer too much thanks to their decrease in the costs of commuting.
Health problems from air pollution
Poor air quality can potentially contribute to heath issues such as asthma, and can lead to early death. In fact it is estimated that air pollution shortens the lives of 7,000 to 80,000 people every year (the vast difference in figures depends on which study and data you analyse).
What can be done
There are a number of options that Governments, businesses and individuals can do in order to manage the harmful particulates and oxides of nitrogen.…
Think about your boiler usage. Shut windows and internal doors to keep the heat in. If you’re cold then try an extra layer of clothing first or go for a walk – exercise will help heat your body. Even turning down the thermostat down a couple of degrees can make a huge difference.
Continue to use public transport if and when you can. Try to support bus and coach operators that offer a greener travelling solution and have invested in providing a cleaner mode of transport.
Review your current processes. Can you shut down parts of the office and only heat areas that will definitely be in use. Educate staff in terms of the importance of saving energy – give them responsibility to turn down the heating, and also control the systems remotely so you can turn off heating and lighting when no one is in.
Check the emission levels for all your vehicles. Will they benefit from a DPF Clean or retrofit solution? Some councils are offering grants to improve or replace emissions system. Not only can it reduce harmful NOx, but it could also reduce running costs and prolong engine life, thus saving money longterm!
Some councils have cancelled plans for Clean Air Zones, but putting strict policies and carbon initiatives in place (especially in inner cities) and offering grants to improve vehicles emissions will be fundamental.
Andrea Lee, from the environmental law charity ClientEarth, said: “Road transport remains the biggest source of illegal levels of air pollution across the country. Evidence shows that Clean Air Zones are the most effective ways to slash harmful nitrogen dioxide pollution coming out of vehicle exhausts. The lockdown reduced levels of some pollutants but we’re racing back to exactly where we were – people’s health needs protection now more than ever.”
About Excalibre Technologies
Founded in 2007 (a year before the introduction of LEZ), Excalibre Technologies was born with the intention of offering high quality commercial vehicle emission control products and services at a competitive price with customer service at the heart of our operation. Since then Excalibre has grown to become a leading supplier of retrofit solutions and DPF cleaning services in the UK.
We work with several national organisations to help achieve their ecological targets of lowering emissions and ensuring their vehicles are maintained to a high standard using internationally recognised practises and equipment supported by OEMs. We can also supply most aftermarket silencers and catalytic converters.
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