Air pollution in cities like Canterbury and large towns is self-evident and it attracts headlines, but we all know that the traffic in parts of Wye is a problem too, especially at certain times of the day. Long queues build up on either side of the level crossing throughout the day, and we know that that idling engines emit harmful particles. Wye has narrow medieval streets which may contain these particles and reduce the rate of dispersal (the canyon effect) and affect air quality. There is no safe level for particulates.
Stationary traffic in Bridge Street, queuing between the level crossing and the Lady Joanna Thornhill Primary School gate. Although school crossing patrols have the same authority as police officers to stop traffic, they have no powers to require drivers to be considerate and switch off their engines.
Children are likely to be more exposed to harmful air pollution during their daily walks to and from school. Their size and growing bodies makes them especially vulnerable to harm from air pollution. This can reduce the lung development of children and increase their risk of asthma. 'Air pollution is a complex mix of particles and gases of both natural and human origin. Particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are both major components of urban air pollution. Currently, there is no clear evidence of a safe level of exposure below which there is no risk of adverse health effects.' Health matters: air pollution Public Health England
Air pollution levels in Wye overall are likely to be within national standards. If so, the village will remain a low priority for action against air pollution. But there is growing scientific evidence that even short exposure to peak levels of air pollution is harmful to health, even when average levels are as low as expected in Wye.
Wye Active has teamed up with Wye with Hinxhill Parish Council and scientists at the University of Kent's Centre for Health Services Studies to develop the 'Wye Breathes' initiative.
Wye Breathes is a 'citizen science' project which relies on a team of volunteers to take regular samples of roadside air from outside the two schools in Wye. The University of Kent has provided and calibrated three types of specialist air sampling equipment and scientists will analyse the data that they record.
For an outline of the Wye Breathes project, download the leaflet via the link above.
About Wye Active CIC
Wye Active formed in 2019 as a voluntary group of local people who are working to make active travel choices, such as cycling and walking around Wye, easier, and safer for all. This aim has strong support in the Wye Neighbourhood Plan's central concept of Wye as a 'walkable' village. Wye Active also wants Wye to be a healthy and vibrant place in which to live, work and study. The group registered in December 2019 as a community interest company (CIC).
Please contact the Parish Clerk if you want to register to help the Wye Breathes project.
If you want to join the Wye Active CIC's mailing list and be kept informed about its project development work, please contact the group direct here.