Clean Air Day Leeds: All you need to know

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Today is Clean Air Day in Leeds, with events planned around the city.

-> 11 primary school roads to be closed this afternoon in Leeds - find out if your school is involved
Primary Schools are closing roads to become 'Play Streets', electric bikes are being made available to be tried by the public and the council have asked for drivers to turn off their engines if they are waiting.

Clean Air Day aims to raise awareness of the damaging health effects of air pollution and the actions we can all take to improve our air quality.

The nationwide campaign is taking place around the country today (June 20).

The day will see local schools, hospitals and communities across the UK hosting events to inspire us all to take action to tackle pollution and protect the health of children in Leeds.

Here is all you need to know:

How polluted is Leeds?

Leeds has dangerous levels of pollution - it is one of Europe's most polluted urban areas.

Parts of Neville Street in Leeds were revealed to be the most polluted street outside London by Friends of the Earth.

The government were set to introduce an emission zone early in 2020.

However, this has been indefinitely delayed due to technology issues.

How many lives could be saved if pollution levels fell?

Leeds City Council found that this reduction in people’s exposure to pollution would result in 673 fewer deaths in people suffering from chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), stroke, asthma, diabetes and lung cancer by 2025.

How much money could be saved?

Their data also showed that reducing pollution would cut millions from our health & social care costs.

For Leeds this would mean a saving of £35.9m in relation to pollution for the NHS and social care.

What events are happening around Leeds?

A number of stalls will be set up in Briggate to give shoppers and commuters advice on how to cut their emissions.

There is also a planned protest by Extinction Rebellion outside Leeds Bradford Airport between 12pm and 3pm.

What is happening at schools?

The day will see children having the opportunity to take part in a wide range of soft play activities on the road outside of their school.

These activities will all be supervised by the Influencing Travel Behaviour Team, school staff, West Yorkshire Police and other partners.

Which schools are closing roads to become Play Streets?

The 11 schools involved are:

Hillcrest Academy, Chapeltown

Hovingham Primary School, Harehills

Alwoodley Primary School, Alwoodley

St Paul's Primary School, Alwoodley

Thorpe Primary School, Idle

Christ Church Upper Armley C of E Primary School, Armley

Clapgate Primary School, Middleton

Manston St James Primary Academy, Manston

Parklands Primary School, Seacroft

Lane End Primary School, Beeston

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Hunslet

What do Safer for Roads say?

"We can’t always see it, but air pollution can have particularly serious effects on the health of our children.

"The influencing Travel Behaviour Team work hard all year using a number of educational tool and methods to help tackle air pollution around school.

"We believe it is vitally important to educate our future generations with the knowledge they need to make a difference to air pollution in the future."

What do the experts say?

Dr James Chan, A&E Doctor in West Yorkshire, said: "Like passive smoking was in the past, air pollution is fast becoming a recognised reason why children and adults attend the emergency department. It is a big factor in causing breathing problems, worsening existing lung conditions, such as asthma and pneumonia.

"Although treatable in many cases, these conditions can and do cause death and disability. More and more is being found linking air pollution to heart disease and other illnesses. Like smoking, air pollution is a problem that affects us all that demands tough action to bring under control."

Ruth Gelletie, Living Street Leeds, said: “These figures are shocking and shows the pressing need for us to get behind Clean Air Day today, make a commitment to active travel, reducing car journeys wherever possible”