How Londoners can protect themselves from toxic air

A cyclist with a face mask

London has a problem with dangerous air pollution. So what can you do to protect yourself? We ask the experts.

Air pollutions masks make little difference. Professor Frank Kelly, Director of the Environmental Research Group at Kings College London, says masks are of little use, unless you’re buying the most expensive ones.

Instead you might be better to try and avoid travelling along busy roads, particularly at peak times such as rush hour. If you like jogging or exercise outside often, try and exercise at less busy times such as early morning or late at night. If you live by a busy road, try and avoid keeping open windows facing out onto it; consider opening windows at the back of the house instead.

If you have a condition such as asthma, sign up for air pollution alerts and considering reducing exercise outside when London is experiencing particularly high air pollution levels. Ensure you continue taking your medication – you may need to increase usage of inhalers.

Exercise is good for you – experts say that, with the exception of episodes of particularly high air pollution, it should not normally be a reason to avoid exercise, and encourage people to get out and get active. Active forms of transport such as cycling also reduce your contributions to the problem of air pollution.

Kelly says “I’d like people to rediscover the joy of walking about the city again”. And ultimately, he adds, we want to solve the problem, we don’t want people to have to walk about with masks on.

Finally, follow our Air Pollution Advice Twitter bot! He’ll pop a piece of daily advice on how to avoid and reduce air pollution onto your feed.

Follow our Clear The Air series this week to find out more about the air pollution crisis in our boroughs.

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