Air pollution is in the air that we breathe in, both indoors and outdoors. There are lots of different types of pollution in the air around us and it can be damaging to everyone’s health.
Short-term effects of air pollution on health
It is possible that very sensitive individuals may experience health effects even on Low air pollution days.
Use the Daily Air Quality Index to understand air pollution levels and find out about recommended actions and health advice. The advice here applies to anyone experiencing symptoms.
Air pollution has a range of effects on health. However, air pollution in the UK on a day-to-day basis is not expected to rise to levels at which people need to make major changes to their habits to avoid exposure; Nobody need fear going outdoors, but they may experience some noticeable symptoms depending on which of the following population groups they are in:
- Adults and Children with lung or heart conditions - It is known that, when levels of air pollutants rise, adults suffering from heart conditions, and adults and children with lung conditions, are at increased risk of becoming ill and needing treatment. Only a minority of those who suffer from these conditions are likely to be affected and it is not possible to predict in advance who will be affected. Some people are aware that air pollution affects their health: adults and children with asthma may notice that they need to increase their use of inhaled reliever medication on days when levels of air pollution are higher than average.
- Older people - Older people are more likely to suffer from heart and lung conditions than young people and so it makes good sense for them to be aware of current air pollution conditions.
- The general population - At Very High levels of air pollution, some people may experience a sore or dry throat, sore eyes or, in some cases, a tickly cough even in healthy individuals.
- Children - Children need not be kept from school or prevented from taking part in games. Children with asthma may notice that they need to increase their use of reliever medication on days when levels of air pollution are higher than average.
Adults and children with heart or lung problems are at greater risk of symptoms. Follow your doctor's usual advice about exercising and managing your condition. It is possible that very sensitive individuals may experience health effects even on Low air pollution days. Anyone experiencing symptoms should follow the guidance provided.
Please see visit the European Lung Foundation, or watch this short video for more information and take a look at the simple Air Pollution and You checklist. This shows you what actions you can take to help reduce yours and your family’s exposure to air pollution, and improve symptoms like coughing, wheezing and breathlessness.
If you would like to see how clean the air is in different parts of the country, please look at this website
And if you would like more information on how to look after your lungs and reduce air pollution, please look at this website.
Choosing Wisely UK is part of a global initiative aimed at improving conversations between patients and their doctors and nurses.
By having discussions that are informed by the doctor but considering what’s important to the patient too, both sides can be supported to make better decisions about care. Often, this will help to avoid tests, treatments or procedures that are unlikely to be beneficial.
What can you do as a patient to be more sustainable?
Mile Oak Medical Centre is making changes to be more sustainable, and we would like to encourage you to be more sustainable too.
Below are some ideas of small changes you can make which can help the environment, and some of which could save you money too.
If you have other ideas about what we can patients can do, or what we can do at Mile Oak Medical Centre to be more sustainable, please let us know. Maybe you would like to join our Patient Participation Group?
Reduce your waste and increase your recycling
Please return any medication you no longer need, and any used inhalers to your pharmacy for safe disposal. Never put your inhalers in your household waste.
- Please take your empty medicine blister packs to a Superdrug Store for recycling
- Rather than gifting friends and families with items they might not really want, patients might be interested in giving a gift with a sustainable difference. For example, the charity https://plantyourpostcode.org/donate/aims or https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/support-us/give/dedications/to allows you to choose a gift of a tree. The environmental, social, and emotional benefits of planting trees are comprehensive: trees capture carbon, provide shade, regulate the microclimate, support wildlife, reduce air pollution and reduce flooding. In addition, trees improve our own health and wellbeing and provide a more pleasant living environment.
- Take your own bags shopping so you do not need to buy a plastic bag from the shop.
- When there is a choice, try and buy produce that is not sold in a plastic bag.
- Consider using shops that allow you to refill your own containers.
- Look into repairing rather than disposing, see the Brighton Repair Café for more information: https://brightonrepaircafe.wordpress.com/. Every month they have a social event where you can bring items to be repaired.
Reduce your use of single use plastic
- You can reduce your use of single use plastic by using a refillable water bottle. When visiting the Practice and need a refill you can and fill it from our water cooler in our waiting room. Many businesses in Brighton and Hove are part of the Refill Brighton (https://www.refill.org.uk/refill-brighton-hove/) scheme, making it much easier for you to stay hydrated, reduce the need to buy single use plastic bottles, and save money.
- We’re helping people find out more about plastic-free menstrual products; these save money, and waste. You can find out more at City to Sea (https://www.citytosea.org.uk/campaign/plastic-free-periods/). Please ask us during your appointment if you have any questions.
- Consider plastic free options such as using laundry detergent sheets rather than laundry liquid which comes in a plastic bottle.
- You might also want to think about other ways to reduce your use of plastic, some websites to visit include City To Sea or Plastic Free Challenge.
Reduce the amount of meat and dairy you eat
- One of the biggest environmental impacts you can have as an individual is to reduce the amount of meat and dairy you eat. There are lots of recipes online to inspire you if you want to make small changes to what you eat, even on just one or two days of the week. You could try https://meatfreemondays.com/ for recipe ideas, or try Dairy Free Tuesday and look at this website for some ideas: https://veganuary.com/recipes/
- Where possible, buy Fair Trade products because, as well as ensuring decent working conditions, terms of trade and prices for producers, it also ensures local sustainability where products are grown/produced.
Increase your use of sustainable transport
- Walk or cycle to Mile Oak Medical Centre for your appointments where possible or share a lift. We have cycle racks that you are welcome to use. Please see ‘How do I get here?’ page for more information (this is one I will send you as soon as I can so please say it is development)
- Use public transport where possible to get to your appointments at the practice or elsewhere. The number 1 bus stops right outside. You can find out more about Brighton and Hove buses here
- When moving beyond Brighton and Hove, think about using the train instead of driving places and try and reduce the amount of flying you do.
Reduce your use of paper
- To reduce our use of paper, we promote health education messages to patients via the patient information screens in waiting areas, texting, or emailing. Please make sure we have your up to date contact details at all times. We also have our own Facebook page, which is regularly updated: .
- We are also starting to encourage patients to use online forms, rather than paper-based forms, and these are gradually being introduced to the website.
Reducing your need for prescriptions or switching to more sustainable prescribing
- Where possible, the Practice is reducing over-prescribing. We will only reduce medications in the best interest of the patient and may also be able to promote other ways you can help manage your condition, for example through diet, exercise, and support groups. Using other forms of support can help reduce the need for, or the amount of, medication prescribed, which is good for you and good for the planet. Please discuss this with our pharmacy team if you would like more information. We have signed up to help our diabetic patients with an evidence-based NHS low-calorie diet programme. Please discuss this at your next diabetic review to see if you are eligible.
- If you have asthma the Practice Nurse will advise you if you are suited to a dry powder inhaler. Find out more about this. Dry powder inhalers are much better for the environment and are often the best choice for our health.
- Some patients need to continue using Metered Dose Inhalers. Where this is the case, we are encouraging patients to ensure they've used every dose from that inhaler before returning it to the pharmacy for recycling.
- As a Practice we are looking at how we can reduce prescribing to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce waste. Please talk to your health care professional if you have concerns about this. Link this to the Choosing Wisely campaign link too.
Supporting your health and wellbeing to stay healthy for longer
- We support patients to improve their health and wellbeing, through self-referral routes
- We are a Parkrun Practic and encourage you to take part in the local Parkruns in Hove Park or Hove Promenade, or Lancing (each one starts at 9am on Saturdays). This is a chance to get fitter, enjoy the outdoors and meet new people. If you don't want to run (or walk) the route, then you can always join in by volunteering and cheering participants on.
- Patients can join one of the many local health walks that take place in Brighton and Hove, and please sign up to the Better Points app so you can earn points to spend convert to money to spend in local shops, or you can choose to donate them to local charities.
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