Air quality in Portsmouth

Air pollution affects us all and is the biggest threat to human health in the UK. Over time, exposure to air pollution can increase the risk of developing asthma and lung disease, contribute to the development heart disease and exacerbate existing lung conditions. In busy cities like Portsmouth, air pollution mainly comes from a gas called nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is caused by burning fuel, including in car engines.

Leaving a vehicle's engine running while it is stationary is called idling. This contributes towards air pollution.

We can all play our part to reduce air pollution. You can help by switching your engine off when you are stationary or, if you own a newer car, make sure your start-stop system is enabled. You can do this when your vehicle is stopped for a minute or so, like waiting for children outside a school, at traffic lights or making a delivery, any time when idling can be avoided.

Top five reasons to switch off an idling engine 

  • It makes us healthier

Cleaner air reduces the risk of lung cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease associated with air pollution.

  • It's better for the environment

Switching off engines in petrol and diesel vehicles reduces the amount air pollution from nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a gas which comes out of the exhaust when fuel is burnt in the engine.

  • It saves fuel

Idling for more than 10 seconds wastes more fuel than restarting the engine.

  • It saves money

Leaving an engine running costs you money when you are going nowhere.

  • It's easy

All you need to do is turn the key, press the stop button or keep your automatic switch off turned on.

Find out more

  • Find out more about vehicle idling and what you can do to avoid it.
  • Discover the health impacts of air pollution and how to protect yourself and your family.
  • Read our idling myth-busters and learn how to save money and take better care of your engine.
  • Find out what Portsmouth City Council are doing to improve air quality and make our city cleaner, greener and safer.

What you can do

We urgently need your help to spread the word and to encourage people to switch off their engines when stationary to help create cleaner air in Portsmouth. Click on our resources page to download a cough, cough poster or order a sticker for your car.