• How Does Air Quality Affect Day-to-Day Activities?

Air Monitoring

How Does Air Quality Affect Day-to-Day Activities?

May 31 2022

Did you know that air pollution is responsible for over seven million deaths across the world each year? Since the vast majority of the global population lives in cities and towns, they are exposed to air quality that is deemed unsafe by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This applies to the most obviously contaminated places such as those found in China and India, but also to much of the western world (including the UK) as well.

Given that exposure to air pollution is so detrimental to our health, it makes sense to tailor your plans based upon the air quality in your area. Thankfully, advances in urban air monitoring have allowed for the provision of comprehensive mapping systems, which are freely available to the public and offer up-to-the-minute information on pollution levels near you, thus informing your decision.

The health effects of exposure to air pollution

Those who live in urban epicentres are the most likely to suffer adverse effects of exposure to poor quality air. This can occur when they are walking, exercising or working, if their job is an outdoor one. Exercising is a particularly dangerous endeavour, since the extra strain placed upon the heart and lungs during physical exertion makes them susceptible to damage from contamination.

In the short term, this can result in headaches, irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, dizziness and fatigue. In the long term, far more serious complaints can occur, such as permanent damage to the lungs, contraction or exacerbation of conditions such as asthma, as well as increased risk of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. Ultimately, exposure to pollution can result in death, as attested to by the stat mentioned above.

What can be done?

While air pollution can negatively impact our health and thus alter our day-to-day activities, it should not stop them altogether. For example, exercising is an excellent means of maintaining good health and should not be foregone completely due to air quality concerns. Instead, it’s important to avail yourself of the facts by reviewing the Air Quality Index (AQI) in your area on a frequent basis.

This will equip you with the information you need to see, at a glance, whether the air quality in your area is sufficient to exercise in. If it’s not, you could postpone your session to another day, reduce the intensity or duration of your workout or look into indoor exercise options, such as taking a fitness class or joining a gym. As for other activities, you can plan different routes for walks or wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for your work.

Staying informed

Thankfully, the massive advances in modern technology means that it’s now easier than ever to stay abreast of the air quality situation in your area. One very exciting innovation on the horizon is the hype of smart city air quality monitoring, which uses a sophisticated and wide-reaching network of small sensors to collect real-time data on pollutant concentrations.

If you’re interested in learning more about these developments as they pertain to working and living, the upcoming Air Quality and Emissions (AQE) Show in Telford in the UK is scheduled to take place this October. Those keen to expand their knowledge of this fascinating sector are invited to visit the above link and register their interest in the event.


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International Environmental Technology 32.3 - May/June 2022

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