According to Asthma UK, around two thirds of the population complain that poor air quality worsens their asthma.
Since the arrival of COVID-19, the UK has seen a reduction in pollution levels. A step in the right direction, but is this enough to help those who are struggling with asthma?
Briony Johnston, 27 from Portsmouth, has been suffering with respiratory problems nearly all her life. Walking through a polluted area such as London can affect her breathing drastically.
Briony believes the UK government isn’t doing enough to help those with asthma. Buzz News reporter Miriam Croitoru, interviews her on her journey.
How long have you been suffering from Asthma?
As long as I can remember but I was officially diagnosed at the age of 3 years old. The severity has changed over the years and it is now worse than when I was originally diagnosed.
How has this impacted you personally?
Growing up I wanted to be a marine biologist and was an avid long- distance runner, but over time I was unable to use scuba diving equipment safely and my running ability was impacted. Even with breathing exercises and training, I was forced to give up long distance running at the age of 15 years old and not long after, I had to look at changing my future career.
Does air pollution trigger your asthma?
Yes, absolutely. Living by the sea, I don’t suffer anywhere near as bad as when I go to my mums where she is surrounded by farm- land and motorway. I find I would really struggle when the farmers were spreading manure or when lorries would pass through the town. Then, somewhere like London with all the fumes from the trains and cars, I find myself using my reliever inhaler for days after visiting as my chest becomes so wheezy.
Are there any simple tips you follow to protect yourself from air pollution?
If I’m in a highly air polluted area, I normally carry eucalyptus oil with me and where possible I put some in a bowl of hot water and inhale it before and after I go out. I avoid using public transport as with the heat it makes it so much worse, some people have suggested wearing a mask, but I didn’t find this helped.
Due to COVID, air pollution concentration has gone down in the past year. Has this helped your asthma?
Yes, it has helped. There are less trains/flights etc so the air in turn has become cleaner meaning it has been even easier to breath.
Do you do anything personally to reduce air pollution and help the environment?
I walk everywhere I can, I do not drive. I’ve taken some inspiration from a trip to Milan so I’m now planning on adding some more green plants to the area around my house to help absorb some of the air pollution. My house is only electric, we do not use gas and I’ve put smart systems in place to allow the house to only use the energy coming through from solar tiles on the roof. Any energy not used was sent to the national grid and used as a filtration system for the air in the house to purify it.
Is there anything you wish the government or people would do differently to reduce air pollution?
Absolutely. In terms of reducing air pollution, I think the UK is way behind compared to other countries/cities. You can go to somewhere like Milan where all the buildings are covered in greenery/plants to help absorb emissions. Places like Dubai where all trains & metro are electric, there are solar panels everywhere. In Germany they are creating smart homes to become eco-friendlier. We are such a lazy population. People can easily avoid driving and instead walk or take the bus. We don’t think about recycling, low emission cars or electric cars. The government hasn’t made it less desirable to drive either. Log burners are still allowed in homes and there is no incentive to be living cleaner.
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