Environmental hazards

Environmental hazards are factors in the environment that can harm the health of people and communities. These can include adverse weather and air quality. You can find information around concerning environmental hazards below. 

The Adverse Weather and Health Plan aims to protect individuals and communities from the health effects of adverse weather and to build community resilience. Adverse Weather Health Plan (publishing.service.gov.uk)

Adverse weather alerts

The Weather-Health Alerting System is provided by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in partnership with the Met Office. It's intended to provide early warning when adverse temperatures are likely to impact on the health and wellbeing of the population.

The Weather-Health Alerting System is made up of the Heat-Health Alerts (HHA) and the Cold-Health Alerts (CHA). The alerting system supports the governments Adverse Weather and Health Plan.

You can sign up to receive adverse weather alerts.

Exposure to cold temperatures can affect anyone but some people are particularly at risk, including:

  • older people (aged 65 and above) people with cardiovascular (heart and circulation) conditions
  • people with respiratory conditions (in particular chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and childhood asthma)
  • people with mental health conditions
  • people with learning and/or physical disabilities
  • young children (particularly those aged under 5)
  • pregnant women
  • people on a low income

There are lots of reasons for the increased risk of ill-health in cold weather. These include:

  • poor-quality housing and particularly cold homes
  • the higher frequency of circulating infectious diseases, such as flu and norovirus during the winter months
  • physical hazards such as snow and ice

During cold weather, people may also use malfunctioning or inappropriate appliances to heat their homes. This can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. When a house is damp as well as cold, mould is more likely to occur. This can increase the risk of illness, especially from asthma.

The keeping warm and well guidance on staying safe in cold weather provides advice on keeping buildings warm during periods of cold weather, and other general measures to help protect social care clients.

There is also area specific guidance and cold weather action cards.

Supporting vulnerable people before and during cold weather: for adult social care managers

Supporting vulnerable people before and during cold weather: healthcare professionals

Supporting vulnerable people before and during cold weather: people homeless and sleeping rough

Looking after children and those in early years settings before and during cold weather: teachers and other educational professionals

Cold weather action cards

Below are cold health alert summary action cards.

For more information on these action cards you can visit the Gov.uk website.

Additionally Age UK and UK Health Security Agency have simple posters with information for keeping warm and well. 

Nottinghamshire County Council has produced a booklet called Winter Wise, to give some tips on how to stay well and get help this winter. Access it here

Cold-Health Alerting system started on 1 November and will end 31 March. Register to receive the Weather Health Alerts via email

Training

An e-module to support learning - E-module on cold homes and health for frontline practitioner - Helping People Living in Cold Homes

Clean air is one of the most basic requirements for us all to live, work, and is essential for our good health and wellbeing, and for the natural environment. poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. It shortens lives and reduces quality of life, particularly amongst the most vulnerable, the young and old, and those living with health conditions. It also damages ecosystems and wildlife.

Air pollution is defined as a mixture of gases and particles that have been emitted into the atmosphere by human-made processes. There are a range of pollutants. The combustion of fossil and carbon based fuels such as coal, oil, gas, petrol/diesel and wood burning are the most significant sources of the key pollutants of concern to local authorities, and also emit carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas.

Further information about air quality in Nottinghamshire can be found here

Outdoor burning

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have published best practice guidance on outdoor burning Reducing air pollution from outdoor burning (defra.gov.uk). The aim of this guidance is to inform members of the public of the air quality impact of outdoor burning and help them to reduce emissions from it. It also supports reducing the risk of wildfires. 

Domestic Burning

Just because you can’t see the pollutants from your stove or open fire doesn’t mean they’re not there. By taking better care of your stove or open fire and feeding it the right fuel, you can reduce the harms to yourself and others.

Burning at home is a major contributor to a type of pollutant called fine particulate matter, which is present in smoke, dust and grit. These tiny particles aren’t always visible but can damage people’s health.

Burn Better, Breathe Better Campaign

This campaign has been running annually since Autumn 2020 and aims to encourage those who use a stove or open fire to take actions that help reduce the amount of fine particulate matter (known as PM2.5) that their stove or open fire emits.  
 
The campaign asks the audience to take three key actions to reduce the risk and ‘Burn Better’: 

Check it - Get their stove checked regularly. 

Sweep it - Have their chimney professional swept at least once a year. 

Feed it - Use the correct ‘Ready to Burn’ fuels.   

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