Only last month, it was announced that Salford has the joint worst air pollution in England, well over World Health Organisation guidelines, and Manchester wasn't far behind (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
One of the major causes of the shocking air quality is emissions from vehicle exhausts, and in an effort to reduce these for 24 hours, and to get people to think about how they travel, this Thursday 21st June has been designated as Greater Manchester's second annual Clean Air Day.
To help commuters, Metrolink owner Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), has announced that there will be free tram travel before 7am or after 7pm on the day, and people can travel without buying a ticket.
"Our trams are zero-emission at street level and are powered by electricity produced from modern, cleaner and greener sources such as wind-power" says TfGM's Head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan.
"While services can get busy during peak times, this free travel offer is aimed at encouraging people to think about changing travel habits" he adds "Choosing to travel outside peak hours, when trams are less busy, can help reduce the peaks in air pollution caused by commuter car journeys, one of the main sources of air pollution."
As well as the free tram travel, events will take place across Greater Manchester on Clean Air Day, including free lung-health checks; and the chance to see or try out the latest electric cars and bikes in Manchester City Centre's Exchange Square.
People are also being asked to make pledges that include leaving the car at home for one day a week, car-sharing, working from home regularly; walking and cycling more; and encouraging friends to do the same.*
There is a also a competition being run for all schools in Greater Manchester to create a radio or video advert 'to drive home the dangers of poor air quality'. Schools can download lesson plans and other resources on the Clean Air Day schools portal and register for an interactive digital workshop.**
"It's not an exaggeration to say that poor air quality is one of the biggest - and deadliest - challenges of the modern age" says Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham "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" he adds "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 schoolchildren will be at the heart of activities for Clean Air Day" he explains "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. I hope that Clean Air Day will really focus attention on these important issues and, more importantly, encourage us all to take action."
Greater Manchester Clean Air Day Thursday 21st June
*For more details see www.tfgm.com/air
**To register for the Clean Air Day schools portal – click here
For more news of what's happening on the day follow #GMCleanAirDay on Twitter