Bradford is one of the areas in the UK that has been identified as having ‘illegal’ levels of pollution and have been ordered by the Government to develop a plan for a ‘clean air zone’ to reduce levels of pollution as quickly as possible.

After consultations with businesses and communities, Bradford has developed plans for a clean air zone which would charge the most polluting vehicles a daily charge to enter as well as lots of other initiatives such as electrifying taxi fleets and improving public transport. Private vehicles will be excluded from charges, but buses, coaches, taxis, heavy goods vehicles and light goods vehicles will not. You can read more about their plans here.

Our project research questions:

  1. What are the key barriers and enablers to implementing Bradford council’s proposed plans?

  2. Are there likely to be any unintended consequences of the plans?

  3. Will the plans affect travel choices amongst Bradford residents?

  4. Will the plans reduce children's exposure to pollution?

  5. What is the impact of the plans 3 years after implementation on respiratory health, cardiovascular health and birth outcomes?

  6. Have the plans affected health inequalities?

  7. What is the value for money of the plans in the long term?

The above image shows the proposed clean air zone in Bradford (image taken from: https://www.bradford.gov.uk/breathe-better-bradford/what-is-proposed/what-is-proposed/.

How do we know whether this clean air zone will work?

Working with teams from the University of Leeds, University of York, St. Stephen’s C of E Primary School, and Bradford Council, the BiB Breathes project will involve training hundreds of primary school age pupils to become ‘citizen scientists’ and monitor levels of pollution they are exposed to in school and during their daily commute using portable sensors (in a trendy bum bag!).

By collecting measurements before and after the clean air zone is implemented we can see whether pollution declines over time. School children and schools will also be able to use the data they collect to explore how their communities can start to make smaller changes to improve air quality. There are simple things we can all do now to reduce our children’s exposure to pollution. These include:

  • crossing to the other side of the road if there is stalling traffic,

  • finding alternative routes to school which avoid busy roads,

  • walking or cycling instead of taking the car,

  • and asking parents to switch off their car engines at the school gate.

In addition to these little changes, we also want to see how we can encourage bigger changes. School Streets is one such initiative which helps schools and local authorities close off streets round schools to allow children a safer way to walk, scoot or cycle to school (and improves air quality at the same time).

For more further information, please visit the Born in Bradford website or follow us on twitter (@bibresearch).

Project Manager: Rukhsana Rashid, Rukhsana.Rashid@bthft.nhs.uk

We are still working on developing the sensors but they will look something like this.