Londoner’s stories – Fiona Dowson

Fiona is a mother and cyclist living in London – she has two young children. She has recently become more aware of the air pollution problem in London. ‘My daughter has had bad wheezing episodes recently – when we have been to the doctor about that they have mentioned they had seen more people than usual with similar complaints which often happens when the weather makes the air quality worse.’ Before this she had not made such a strong link between her family’s health and air pollution.

She worries about the health of her children and all the other children exposed to poor air in central London. Having had some breathing problems herself she has wondered about moving out of London for cleaner air – ‘Living in London long term is likely to have impacts on our health, there are proven links between air pollution and health. People are always going to live in London, you can’t just move away from the problem, it needs to be sorted out.”

Fiona does what she can – she encourages a friend with asthma to follow pollution alerts, cycles where possible to reduce her contribution to the problem and tries to reduce her family’s exposure to pollution by avoiding busy roads. ‘One of the things I do to avoid the worst pollution on the busiest roads is to take a quieter route, particularly when I’m walking with my children. They are normally prettier and you actually get a chance to chat to your children as the traffic noise doesn’t interfere so much.’

Despite measures like the Low Emission Zone, Fiona thinks the government aren’t doing enough to directly tackle air pollution – ‘I am really glad I came across the Healthy Air Campaign as it is so important that people are raising awareness of air pollution, for families in particular, and to put pressure on government as there is a lot more they could be doing.’

Read Fiona’s blog  ‘Should 1.6 million children escape to the country?

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