Air Monitoring

How Many Pollution Cigarettes Do You Smoke?

May 10 2018 Read 440 Times

It’s a well-known fact that smoking is bad for your health. Not only does it discolour teeth, place a strain on your heart and increase the chance of high cholesterol, it’s a known carcinogenic and can cause or exacerbate a wide range of respiratory problems. The sensible advice would be to stop smoking altogether – or better yet, never take it up in the first place.

However, the increasingly polluted airwaves of the world’s urban metropoles may mean that abstaining from cigarettes is not be enough. A new app, aptly named Sh*t, I Smoke! allows you to see a visual indication of how much pollution you are exposed to in your geographical location in terms of the number of cigarettes smoked.

A figure you can understand

There are constantly new and innovative ways to monitor air pollution (in particular, particulate matter [PM] pollution) on the market, but the figures that these provide can sometimes prove unintelligible or unrelatable to the layman. That’s why French developer Amaury Martiny and Brazilian designer Marcelo Coelho teamed up to create the app Sh*t, I Smoke!

The pair struck upon the novel idea after stumbling across a study which compared the atmosphere in notoriously smog-ridden cities with tobacco inhalation. The original study was undertaken by a pair of physics professors from Berkeley University in California and used a rough rule of thumb to calculate their results. For every 22μg/m3 of PM2.5 concentration in the air that a person is exposed to, that equates to approximately one cigarette.

This means that on average, Americans smoke 0.4 cigarettes per day just by breathing in the ambient air around them. Residents of Chinese capital and notorious pollution hotspot Beijing inhale around four cigarettes every day, although that figure can rise to as high as 25 cigarettes on days of particularly poor air quality.

Raising awareness

While the app in itself might seem to only have limited use as a gimmick, it could serve an important role in raising awareness about the dismal state of many urban environments in terms that everyone can understand. Non-smokers, especially, may be alerted to the need for urgent action with regards to reducing our carbon footprint and cleaning up city air in the wake of learning how many “cigarettes” they consume without even knowing it.

Awareness on the issue is already growing. This year’s CEM Conference is booking fast as interested parties scramble to secure a place in Budapest later this month. The conference will feature 151 speakers from 11 nations on the topics of air pollution and global warming and is one of the biggest of its kind worldwide.

Meanwhile closer to home, there was similarly impressive growth at 2017's Air Quality and Emissions event in Telford last May. This time around, the event will be celebrating its tenth anniversary and the organisers are hoping they can consolidate on last year’s progression to secure the biggest attendance yet.   

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