Ep18. How to engage with the dis-engaged, to tackle the UK’s air pollution emergency problem?

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How to engage with the dis-engaged, to tackle the UK’s air pollution emergency problem, with Katie English.

Did you know, Ella-Kissi Debrah was the first person in the UK to have air pollution as her cause of death? Ella was only 9 years old. The UK is experiencing an air pollution & national waste emergency.

This week, we’re joined by lovely Katie Scarlett English, who is a Master’s graduate in ‘Environment, Politics & Society’ at one of London’s most renowned universities, UCL. She entitles her thesis: London’s Toxic Air Health Crisis: A study of local resistance to the environmental, social and health injustices produced by the Edmonton Incinerator.

This is a topic that touches us both on a such a personal level, so I hope you enjoy this episode where we’ll learn more about:

- The current national waste problem and how this links to the spiking air pollution levels.

- The argument for incinerators to still exist, if we know the great damages this is causing to our atmosphere, environment and local communities.

- The intersections of racial injustice and rising air pollution levels in the UK.

- Harness the power of community to engage with the disengaged…

Katie Scarlett English featured on The ANIMA ANIMUS Podcast, a podcast focusing on streetwear fashion and sustainability.

Reach Katie at:


Thoughts/ ideas/ brought up in the conversation:

23:05 - The problem: Overproduction of waste causing a national waste emergency.

- “There are only 3 London incinerators but they contribute to 54% of the total UK incineration.”

- UK Government focuses on “quick” fixes, mainly incineration, to resolve this.

30:00 - What are the health implications of burning waste?

- Burning waste produces massive health impacts because of the particles and toxins in the air. Leading to premature deaths, asthma attacks, pulmonary function and inflammation.

- The levels of NOx in London currently breach World Health Organization (WHO) levels.

- Travaglio et al. (2020) study: air pollution produced by incineration is linked to the spread of the coronavirus.

Ella Kissi-Debrah – first person in the UK to have air pollution as a cause of death.

- Died at age 9. Lived in South London.

- Exposed to excessive levels of air pollution, building up to her asthma attack.

- Research revealed more than 2million Londoners are living in areas which exceed legal limits.

32:00 - Ok, so we know about all these negatives, what’s the argument for these incinerators to still exist?

41:00 - What are the strategies in which the activists are using to engage with the disengaged?

49:22 - Intersectional: Racial Injustice and climate injustice

Katie’s top resources & recommendations to learn more about this topic:

· UKWIN Website

· WHO Website

· Local environmental groups

· Academic articles (Travaglio et al. (2020) etc.)

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Thank you so much again for coming through, and until next week…

Sending you mad mad love,

Chelsea x

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