Updated: Jul 24, 2019
Glose Jeanjean is our Marketing and Administrative Assistant and proud mum of two busy boys. Here's Glose's view on the importance of air pollution and why we do what we do.
Air Pollution Today
We know the facts, we know the figures. Each year the UK sees in excess of 40,000 deaths attributable outdoor air pollution with more than 20 billion GBP in associated costs. Regulatory guidelines compiled by the WHO and EU are flouted on a daily basis, London proudly exceeded the annual recommended limit of NO2 in the first month of 2018 alone. Not to mention the emerging link with socio-economic status, ethnic minority populations and crime which is fast becoming known as “environmental injustice”.
Add to this the fact that the harmful effects of air pollution span long-term and immediate consequences, the latest being suggested is a decrease in labour productivity most evident in work-places close to factories and poor air quality areas.
The rationale being that the brain is an oxygen-dependent organ, anything that hinders this process, ie: nasty air pollution components and nano-particles, reduced oxygen to the brain and brain-related processes. These would necessarily include, memory, control of manual tasks, data processing and other cognitive abilities related to ordinary work.
Worryingly, these patterns exist across all sectors and settings with more research needed to quantify exactly to what extent.
This brings the issue of air pollution out of the atmosphere and straight into the workplace, where it makes for one large and particularly noxious elephant. Air pollution has the potential to harm wherever air moves, and that includes streets, schools, homes, parks and now the office. Indoors and outdoors. Lungs, blood and even bladder. It doesn’t discriminate and doesn’t chose. It is the silent killer of our time, take the reigns from hypertension just a decade or so ago.
What is to be Done?
Prof. Joshua Graff Zivin, from the School of Global Policy and Strategy and the Department of Economics, University of California claims that a reduction in particulate matter levels from 1999 to 2008 equates to about 20 billion dollars a year in improved productivity and labour savings.
We need more research like this, much more. But we also need the political muscle and technical know-how to deal with problems as they are being identified. With this level of multi-faceted support, we can really reach out to big industry polluters such as car manufacturers and fossil fuel burners, as well as the average person who works a 9-5 job and breathes a toxic cocktail of air pollution alongside the mid-morning cuppa.
EarthSense has done just that, reaching out to local authorities, central government as well as small communities and action groups. Fighting For Air was one example of such work which gained wide media coverage airing on BBC2 and culminating in the successful reduction of air pollution during a Clean Air Day initiative in King’s Heath, Birmingham.
This was just one day, in one street