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Meet The Women Leading Action & Innovation in Air Quality

The problem with air pollution

The topic of air quality is more important and more prevalent than ever. According to the UN Environmental Programme up to 7 million premature deaths are caused by air pollution every year. 

In the UK alone, up to 38,000 deaths are caused by air pollution annually and the estimated cost to the NHS and social care of air pollutants is estimated to be £1.6bn between 2017 and 2025.

Daily new research shows how air pollution is responsible for cutting short lives, stunted growth, lung disease, heart disease, cancer, dementia. The list is scary and the effects are long lasting. From cradle to grave. 

And what’s more, air pollution has its most negative impact on marginalised and impoverished urban communities. Those often with the least opportunity to transform their environment or living conditions. 

The World Health Organisation calls air pollution ‘the greatest environmental threat to global health’.

The politics of air pollution

Added to the health impact of air pollution is the political and media storm around air quality. In the UK particularly, the implementation of the ULEZ scheme in London has dampened conversation about the cause and effect of clean air. It’s been replaced with hot political headlines that include the London Mayor’s  ‘unfair’ car scrappage scheme, conflated with the cost of living crisis. 

And yet. There is something uniquely special about the clean air sector that no-one until now has paused to recognise, let alone celebrate. 

There are an unusual number of females driving the charge against air pollution. 

New and gathering numbers of women are leading the conversation about clean air – particularly in the UK . A rich diversity of voices are tackling clean air  through a variety of means. From entrepreneurship to education, activism to governance and investment to invention.  

Air Pollution: A Female Perspective:

Since the anniversary death of Ella Kissi-Debra 10 years ago – the first ever UK death attributed directly to air pollution – her mother, Rosamunde Kissi-Debra has been campaigning tirelessly to raise awareness about the dangers of urban air pollution.

But Rosamunde is not alone. Over the past few years an increasing number of female led initiatives, projects, campaigns and innovations have been developing. From the campaigning Mums for Lungs group to air quality innovator and engineer Kate Barnard, they all share one overarching ambition – to eradicate air pollution. 

We think it’s time to meet, mark and celebrate these pioneers. And we hope in doing so, we put power behind their voices, find even more female voices and draw their combined energy into a singular tour de force that combats  air pollution once and for all.

This is just the start. Please do add your own name or others you know or think should be on this list!

Growth Studio has designed the world’s largest clean air accelerator programme called Breathable Cities. The programme supports historically marginalised entrepreneurs to accelerate their clean air innovations and also supports  women campaigning for change. 

Clean Air: Whose Involved?

Here is our Clean Air Female Power List (in no particular order or sector):

Kate Barnard

Co-Founder & CEO of Enjoy The Air . The business consolidates existing data on air pollution and visualises it in a way that helps governmental organisations make informed and real-world decisions.

Kristen Tapping

Founder and CEO of GoRolloe. Air purifying hardware solutions for the mobility sector, using the existing energy from moving vehicles to passively capture airborne pollutants primarily in urban environments.

Diana Lugova

Co-Founder and CEO of Sensyqo. An environmental IoT solution Air365 provides hardware and Cloud platform to collect indoor air quality data and provide outdoor air quality data and run analytics as well as prepare data for ESG reports. 

Francesca Brady

CEO and Co-Founder of AirRated, Indoor air quality certification & consultancy.

Olga Turner-Baker

Co-Founder of Ekkist who consult on the design, creation and management of buildings and places that support human health and well-being.

Paulina Warcholowska

Airly Head of Operations.  Airly provide hyper local real time air quality data.

Lucy Parkin

Co-Founder and Advisor at Kleanbus -a business retrofitting diesel buses with electric engines to reduce emissions.

Agnes Agyepong 

Founder & CEO of Black Maternal Health – working with health bodies to identify links between air pollution and maternal health.

Rosamunde Kissi-Debra

Campaigner for clean air following the death of her daughter Ella from air pollution.

Olamide Raheem

Portfolio Manager, Impact on Urban Health

Rachel Pidgeon

Portfolio Manager, Impact on Urban Health

Jemima Hartshorn

Founder & Director of Mums for Lungs 

Sietske Van de Ploeg

Chief Impact Officer at Clean Air Fund – a philanthropic initiative, funding organisations across the world that tackle air pollution.

Larissa Lockwood

Director of Clean Air at Global Action Plan who organise National Clean Air Day

Laura Keast

Founder, Air Pollution Revolution

Shirley Rodrigues

Deputy London Mayor for Environment & Energy

Rezina Chowdhury

Deputer Leader – Lambeth Sustainability & Clean Air

Baroness Jones of Moulscomb

AQ Expert, Member of House of Lords

Poppy Lyle

Interim Head of Air Quality at GLA

IIlhan Farah 

Project Support Officer (Air Quality) at GLA

Dr Maria Neira

Public Health & Environmental  Director, World Health Organisation

Dr Shelly Miller

Professor of Indoor & Urban Air, University of Boulder, Colorado

Helen Apsimon

Professor of Air Pollution Studies, Imperial College, London

Fleur Hughes

Network Manager, Science & Technology Air Quality Network, University of York

Ogechi Nwonye

Climate Change Activist & Founder of  Ecocyclers

Mehrnaz Tajmir

Co-founder & Chief Science, Greener

Julie Blane

ESG Impact Investor/Sustainable Women’s Network

Maria Rotilu

First Cheque Fund at Octopus Ventures

Amy Rennison

Impact Investor

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