Tag Archives: pollutants

2013 ‘A Year of Air’

Europe – in particular the European Union – is very much in the news at the moment. David Cameron stated earlier this week on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he is looking to seek a ‘fresh settlement’ with Europe and is due to make a much-anticipated speech on the issue on Friday.

Whatever your views on Britain’s involvement with Europe, 2013 looks like it will be an important year when it comes to the formulation of EU air pollution policy. This year is the EU’s Year of Air. For those unfamiliar with this initiative, it is a time when EU air pollution policy will be revised.

With a recent survey by Eurobarometer, the EU’s public opinion poll analysts informing us that the majority of EU citizens do not think their governments do enough to tackle harmful pollutants, now is a good a time as any to join together and push for appropriate legislation to be put in place across the entire region to create standards that will drastically reduce the level of pollutants in the air and so decrease the public health consequences.

Only last year the EU ruled that the UK is already in breach of its air quality directive and that 16 areas of the UK will not meet the legal NO2 limits by 2015.  But what is government putting in place to help resolve this?

Introducing more greenery into the inner city areas where the PM10 and other pollutant levels are at their highest is a quick and easy step to begin improving air quality. Encouragingly, a number of local councils and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, are beginning the process of introducing living walls and green screens in order to absorb pollutants.

Why use living walls and green screens? Well, planting trees is all very well, however time is needed for them to establish themselves in their new home and grow.  Green screens, such as ours, are a more convenient choice as they can begin to work on reducing the levels immediately. We have seen a growth in interest for these and now even sell screens that are as high as 3 meters.

Local authorities should be held more responsible and be given further support in reducing the air pollutants in their areas. With some co-ordinated thinking, hopefully the EU’s Year of Air can help them achieve this – for the sake of everyone’s lungs.

Work with researchers and clients undertaken to highlight benefits of welI designed green spaces

We have started a pioneering partnership with academics from Staffordshire University which we believe will help both our existing and future customers better understand how well-managed green planted spaces can enhance wellbeing and help to solve social and environmental problems.

From improving mental health and reducing crime to improving air quality, the issues that the installation of a well-designed green space can resolve are diverse. In order to put these benefits on a more scientific footing, we, along with Staffordshire University, are asking clients – whether from the private or public sector – to come up with suggestions of what areas they would like investigating. Scientists from the university will then work with the client and us to research the precise benefits that these intelligently designed green spaces can bring to a particular area, for example building insulation, employee attendance rates or an improvement in general human well-being.
Clients will then have some scientific data that will enable them to fully grasp the problems that green spaces can help them solve.
Research by Staffordshire University is already under way and scientists are conducting a study which is investigating how successfully carefully designed green spaces influence biodiversity, improve building insulation and capture microscopic pollutants, thereby improving air quality and human health.
The current research being completed at Staffordshire University will help to provide more information on how pollutants known as PM10s – particulate matter that is less than 10 microns in diameter – are absorbed by plants. The reduction of PM10 levels is a focus of policy for the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The three-year research study, which is in its final year, is being carried out by PhD student under the supervision of two Professors at the University.  A variety of sophisticated scientific techniques and instruments are being used to understand the nature of a green space’s interaction with particulate matter, including an environmental scanning electron microscope, which is used to establish the size of particles that are trapped by plants. Once complete, the research is due to be published in a number of international peer-reviewed journals.
Through an on-going partnership with the university, we hope we will bring similar scientific rigour to research into the other benefits of carefully planned and maintained green spaces.