Young Wigan people are gearing up for a national day of action to tackle the growing threat of polluted air.
The second Greater Manchester Clean Air Day takes place on Thursday, June 21 and thousands of school pupils will have the chance to take part in a creative competition to drive home the dangers of poor air quality.
It’s a particularly telling event because the borough was named on a pollution hit list issued by the World Health Organisation.
Its researchers identified Wigan as one of 32 UK locations which exceed recommended levels for fine particle emissions – with 11 micrograms of the particles per cubic metre of air – putting the area alongside places like Coventry, Hull, Middlesbrough and Norwich.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is inviting all local secondary and primary schools to get involved by creating a radio or video advert.
Schools can now download lesson plans and other resources on the Clean Air Day schools portal and register for an interactive digital workshop.
They’ll join the call for people right across the region to get involved by pledging to take individual action to help cut air pollution.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “It’s not an exaggeration to say that poor air quality is one of the biggest – and deadliest – challenges of the modern age.
“I’m working with local councils and transport and health trusts to make sure we’re doing everything we can to tackle this problem. But the stark truth is, we can’t succeed alone.
“On last year’s first ever Clean Air Day we saw thousands of people pledging to make changes to help clean up our air, from car sharing to using greener transport more, or even working from home where possible.
“This year I want to see even more people take long-term action. Every single one of us needs to think about making small lifestyle changes to help clean up the air we all breathe.
“It’s fitting that local children will be at the heart of activities. They’re more vulnerable than most to air pollution, not least due to the fumes they breathe in every day as thousands of parents still leave their car engines running at school gates.”
Following the publication of the WHO pollution findings, Alison Cook, director of policy at the British Lung Foundation, said: “This report reconfirms that air pollution is one of the leading environmental public health crises in the UK today.
“Action to reduce the toxic particles in the air we breathe can no longer be delayed. How much more evidence do we need to see before the Government sets new legal limits on pollution levels to protect the nation’s lung health?”