Unhappy new year
While there are lots of actions seeking to improve air quality, it’s worth remembering why we are promoting them. It can seem abstract - we can rarely see or smell air pollution - yet the impacts are very real. Over the last few months, Louise has been reading more and more about the evidence on the health impacts of dirty air, and it’s only made her more galvanised to do something about it!
There is a broad distinction often made between: the impacts of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and other gases, which can damage your lungs and contribute to respiratory illnesses; and particulate matter (PM), which (depending on its size and what it’s made of) can get almost anywhere in your body and contributes to a whole host of diseases.
The UK and many other countries should see the gradual reduction of NO2 through phasing out petrol and diesel cars - and until then you can reduce your exposure by avoiding the main sources of the pollutant such as road traffic. PM is harder to avoid and arguably has more widespread health impact.
Chronicle of a death foretold
Without wanting to read like a tale of woe, some the recent studies that have been keeping us motivated to address air pollution are:
up to half of attendance at healthcare facilities for breathing difficulties being caused by breaches of NO2 limits
links between PM2.5 and NO2 exposure in the womb and later reproductive health in men
This all adds up to the widely-used World Health Organisation statistic that air pollution is associated with 7 million premature deaths worldwide every year. This huge number can be hard to comprehend. As a comparison, it is significantly more than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
Lots of these studies and statistics talk about a link or association, rather than a cause. However, as the evidence linking air pollution to a huge range of health problems is strong and the physiological processes well understood, it adds up to a pretty strong causal chain in our view. Luckily there are some altruistic volunteers testing it all properly.
To 2024 and to acting on this! We hope you like the new logo too.
Thanks for reading AirAware air quality! Subscribe for free to receive new posts.