TOP STORIES

London

Oxford Street revealed as worst place in the world for toxic pollutant nitrogen dioxide Traders today said urgent action was needed to slash traffic levels after a report revealed Oxford Street has the highest levels of a toxic pollutant in the world.

air pollution mapAn Interactive Air-Pollution Map In March, the World Health Organization estimated that air pollution was responsible for 7 million premature deaths in 2012. That’s one out of every eight total deaths in the world.

 

 

eu flagEU Air Pollution Limits Exceeded By 11 Member States During 2012, EEA Confirms — Germany, France, And Ireland Among Them  A significant number of notable EU member states exceeded air pollution limits in 2012, the European Environment Agency (EEA) recently revealed. Included among those that exceeded the legal limits are Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Not exactly insignificant players in the region. The other member states to exceed the legal limits in 2012 were Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Malta.

Posted in Air Quality | Leave a comment

Review: Respro® Skins™ Pollution Masks by Techwearist

Marcelo Burlon

Last month I read an article about how to combat air pollution and I stumbled upon a pretty cool company called Respro®. Established in 1993, Respro® has been making products for the urban sports environment. One of those products they make are pollution masks. They have a whole range of options and each of them are customized to better suit your environment.

With the rise of pollution in cities, it’s a good choice to wear a pollution mask. However, most pollution masks just don’t fit into your wardrobe and you’ll get odd looks. Respro® combats that image by introducing Skins™, in an effort to make the mask a part of your style. Respro® Skins™ allow you to make the mask more personal by being able to customize the look of the mask. By being able to coordinate the look of the mask to your clothes you can make a stylish outfit and still protect yourself from air pollution. Build your own mask here.

Respro® also recently teamed up with Marcelo Burlon County of Milan to create skins for their collection that is inspired by moto-cross as seen in the slideshow above. This is their first step into the fashion world and these were launched at last month’s Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy. These masks could easily fit in your techwear wardrobe.

If you’re a commuter and/or live in a highly polluted area then pollution masks are a good way to combat bad air quality. Head over to the Respro® website to learn more about their range of options.

via Respro® Pollution Masks | Techwearist.

Posted in Respro® Mask Reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Hong Kong Air Pollution Reaches ‘Serious’ Level on Storm

Hong Kong’s air pollution reached the “serious” level today, the highest since June 14, as an approaching typhoon leads to smog, according to a government website.

The pollution level was higher than normal as of 4 p.m., with the Air Quality Health Index reaching the maximum level of 10-plus at 6 monitoring stations, while most stations were at nine or higher, according to a statement on the government’s website. The health risk categories “very high” or “serious,” the statement said.

The light wind has hindered the dispersion of air pollutants and the high level of ozone has promoted the formation of nitrogen dioxide, particularly at street level, according to the press release.

A continental airstream is bringing very hot weather to Guangdong,” according to the release. “The intense sunshine and high temperature enhanced photochemical smog activities and formation of ozone during the daytime, resulting in high background pollution in the region.”

The weather will still be very hot tomorrow under the influence of tropical cyclone Matmo’s outer subsiding airstream, and it is expected the pollution levels would still be higher than normal before then, according to the release.

Poor roadside air quality presents the biggest daily health threat to Hong Kong’s 7.2 million people, according to the government’s clean-air plan published last year. Nitrogen dioxide, mostly formed from vehicles in roadside areas, has been linked to damaged lung function in children and asthma attacks.

via Hong Kong Air Pollution Reaches ‘Serious’ Level on Storm – Businessweek.

Posted in Air Quality, Asia, China | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Air pollution fears at holy sites

Saudi Arabia

Pilgrims visiting the holy sites of Saudi Arabia, including Mecca, are being exposed to significant air pollution, with high levels of combustion tracer carbon monoxide (CO) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) detected in samples, a new study shows.

Several one-minute air samples were taken from Mecca and the central pilgrimage route, which extends to Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah, during the main Hajj season – the largest annual Muslim gathering in the world. Those samples revealed elevated CO levels of 57 parts per million by volume (ppmv) – exceeding the maximum average concentration deemed acceptable by the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).
The study, by a team from University of California at Irvine (UC Irvine), started during the pilgrimage season in 2012 with a survey focusing on measuring carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), CO, and 96 speciated C1-C10 VOCs. It revealed that the major VOC sources came from vehicular exhaust and petrol evaporation.
Pilgrims spend a significant amount of time in major road tunnels, such as Souq al-Sagheer Azizia tunnels, during Hajj and the month of Ramadan, with traffic jams lasting up to an hour. The Souq al-Sagheer tunnel is particularly congested as it leads to the Grand Mosque.
Air samples from the tunnels turned out to be the most polluted, according to the survey. The Souq al-Sagheer tunnel had more than 1200 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) of gasoline evaporation tracer i-pentane. And the highest CO level (57,400 ppbv) ever recorded by the research group was measured in that tunnel. Likewise, a high benzene level of 185 ppbv was also recorded, exceeding the one-hour air quality standard of 9 ppbv.
Future studies are expected to expand the scope of sampling. “[Besides] measurements throughout the Mecca area, we hope to include more detailed surveys of tunnels in order to get a better idea of what pilgrims are breathing in these more highly concentrated areas,” says researcher Isobel Simpson from University of California at Irvine (UC Irvine). “Continued surveys would also help us understand how the air quality in Mecca is changing with time.”
Meanwhile, the Saudi Arabian government is already acting on the problem, according to a report in the Saudi-based Arab News. The Civil Defense spokesman, Saleh Al-Olyani, told the newspaper that they are working on improving ventilation and controlling carbon emissions from vehicle exhaust within tunnels.
“We would like to coordinate with groups that measure complementary air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, in order to get a more complete assessment of Mecca’s air pollution. This in turn would allow us to better understand the formation of other harmful pollutants such as ground-level ozone,” adds Simpson.
Tahir Husain, a researcher from Memorial University of Newfoundland, who was not involved in the study, says that the research is a good start, but the researchers should have collected data on fine particulate matters as well. “Fine particulates, especially less than 2.5 microns, are very harmful to health and have a direct link to many respiratory and heart related issues.”

via Air pollution fears at holy sites – News – Nature Middle East.

Posted in Air Quality, Middle East | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dundee’s air pollution ‘needs to be tackled’

imageDundee’s busiest streets are among the most polluted in Scotland, new figures have revealed.

Four popular city roads are so highly polluted with nitrogen dioxide that they break European law, according to Friends of the Earth.

Seagate, Lochee Road, Meadowside and Whitehall Street all have some of the highest readings in Scotland for the key pollutant, which can contribute to heart and lung diseases, as well as asthma.

Two thousand Scots die from the effects of such pollution each year, according to the organisation, who are calling for action to stop the potentially deadly problem.

Friends of the Earth Scotland air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “A number of busy streets are recording high levels of pollution and are on track to break legal limits for 2014.

“It is disappointing to see continued high levels, especially because Scotland and the UK have been called up by European courts for its slow progress on cleaning up the air.

“These delays see the prospect of clean air slipping over the horizon for people living in Scottish towns and cities. These delays mean there is no end in sight for the thousands of Scots who suffer from air pollution.

“It aggravates asthma, and can cause heart disease, strokes and lung cancer.”

“We know that over 2,000 Scots die from the effects of air pollution each year, so these delays in meeting clean air standards mean even more unnecessary death and suffering.”

Ms Hanna also said that the rising levels of air pollution, which is shown in figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), could provide a double-whammy of financial costs, as well as human suffering.

“Scotland is breaking European laws on air pollution,” she said. “Under EU rules, Europe could eventually impose hefty fines on the UK and Scotland if it fails to clean up its act.

“The public should not have to cough up the money to pay for the Government’s continued inaction.

“The public may have to pay out twice for air pollution: once for health care of those affected and then again through EU fines for government’s failure to act.

“The Scottish Government has thus far proved itself unwilling to take the steps necessary to tackle this public health crisis.

“It has been hoping for improvements in vehicle technology to solve the problem but it should be proactive in cutting traffic levels by halting new unnecessary road developments, investing more in walking and cycling, and improving public 
transport.

“The health impacts of air pollution are clear, the Government’s strategy is not. For the sake of people’s lives and wellbeing, air pollution needs to be tackled as an urgent priority.

“We cannot afford to wait any longer,” she added.

The Scottish Government defended its role in trying to cut air pollution.

“These revised projections from Defra are very disappointing as previous projections suggested that all parts of Scotland would comply with legal limits for nitrogen dioxide pollution from traffic within the next couple of years,” said a Scottish Government spokeswoman.

Craig Melville, convener of Dundee City Council’s environment committee, also defended the city council’s work to improve air quality.

He said: “We are continuing to work towards improving local air quality through implementing the measures contained in our air quality action plan.”

The analysis follows the recent revelation before European judges that Scotland will not meet air pollution limits until 2020 in Edinburgh, Central Scotland and North East Scotland and 2025 in Glasgow.

via Dundee’s air pollution ‘needs to be tackled’ – Dundee / Local / News / The Courier.

Posted in Air Quality, Europe, UK | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Lambeth council accused of ‘cover up’ over air pollution deaths

PollutionjThe Green Party has accused Labour-controlled Lambeth council of a ‘cover up’ after a Green council motion was amended to remove references to over 100 annual deaths in Lambeth linked to air pollution.

The Labour amendment also deleted references to the borough’s breech of Nitrogen dioxide levels, as well as the risk to Lambeth schools from poor air quality.

Set to be proposed to the authority’s full council meeting this Wednesday, it was amended by Labour’s cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Jenny Braithwaite, to hide Public Health England (PHE) statistics from April this year, as well as remove references to measures which could improve the situation.

The figures stated that 112 deaths occur each year in the borough linked to air pollution, while dozens of Lambeth schools which lie within 150 metres of roads carrying 10,000 vehicles a day.

Green Party councillor Scott Ainslie said:

“It is now clear that Lambeth Council are not taking their responsibility seriously toward air pollution. They are instead seeking to pass the buck.  Not only that, but the council is deliberately proposing measures to withhold important information from residents about air quality and the risk that pollution poses to children at Lambeth schools.

“Lambeth could introduce some very simple measures as others boroughs have done.  But amending this motion on air quality means that the Council will not commit to informing schools, it won’t commit to measures pollution levels outside schools, and it won’t commit even to reviewing its incineration of waste.”

This latest move follows a Green Party expose in 2012 which showed Lambeth Council had opted out of the London Air Quality Network – meaning that data was no longer published about Lambeth’s air quality levels. The controversy forced the council to opt back in.

via Lambeth council accused of ‘cover up’ over air pollution deaths | Left Foot Forward.

Posted in Air Quality, Europe, London, UK | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Wildfires causing hazy skies, vibrant sunsets in Minnesota

Have the skies looked a little hazy, and the sunsets extra red this weekend?

That’s because strong winds have blown particles and smoke from a massive, rapidly spreading wildfire in north-central Washington state and Canada to Minnesota, which is creating a foggy haze in Minnesota’s skies.

The Washington wildfire is growing, being fueled by gusty winds in the northwest, USA Today reports. Officials say lightning caused the fire, which started Wednesday, and it has destroyed more than 100 homes and several other buildings, the newspaper notes.

The gusty winds that are fueling the fire are also sending smoke and particles across the country.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has a map below of current wildfires in the United States marked with red dots and the smoke caused by the fires is marked in green and yellow. Green signifies thin with smoke, while yellow is moderately dense with smoke.

KSTP meteorologist Jonathan Yuhas says particles are blowing 15,000 to 20,000 feet above the state. Despite being visible, they aren’t affecting the air quality in the state, the National Weather Service says.

In addition to the haze, the wildfires have made for extra-red skies, FOX 9 notes. This is caused by the sun’s rays being bent by the smoke particles in the air, Yuhas says.

Wildfires in Canada have also caused some spectacular sunsets in Minnesota this week.
Some people may also be able to smell smoke from the wildfires, Yuhas notes.
The haze is expected to be gone by Wednesday.

via Wildfires causing hazy skies, vibrant sunsets in Minnesota – Rick Kupchella’s – BringMeTheNews.com

Posted in Air Quality, USA & Canada | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Respro® Masks FAQ: I feel my breathing is restricted, is this normal?

POWA VALVEI feel my breathing is restricted, is this normal?

I think that from the start that you have to understand that any mask will have some level of restriction especially at fast breathing rates for example; when cycling fast.

All of our masks are compatible with aerobic exercise. If you body starts working in an anaerobic capacity then no mask is compatible and you will feel like you need to stop or slow down.,

The best masks will use exhalation valves that ‘dump’ heat, water vapours and Co2; the quicker the better. The removal of these components are the key to comfort. You need to get them out of the mask. The Powa and Powa Elite valve is key at elevated breathing rates.

For more frequently asked questions, go to Respro® Mask FAQ

All Respro® products are available from our website respro.com

Respro® will ship your order to anywhere on the planet free of charge.

Posted in Air Quality | Tagged | Leave a comment

Scots cities ‘10 years behind on air quality’

Glasgow

MOST of Scotland’s cities will be ten years late when they finally meet a European air quality standard, according to environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth Scotland.

The group said while a legal limit on the amount of nitrogen dioxide should have been met in 2010, most cities – including the capital Edinburgh – would not achieve this standard until 2020.

Scotland’s largest city Glasgow might not meet the target until 2025, it added.

It carried out analysis of figures from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Defra, which it said showed streets in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Perth and Linlithgow in West Lothian could all breach the European limit in 2014.

The air in Hope Street in Glasgow had 66 microgrammes of nitrogen dioxide in it per cubic metre, data for January to July showed, above the limit of 40.

Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner with Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “A number of busy streets are recording high levels of pollution and are on track to break legal limits for 2014. It is disappointing to see continued high levels, especially because Scotland and the UK have been called up by European Courts for its slow progress on cleaning up the air.

“The law required Scotland to have clean air by 2010. These delays see the prospect of clean air slipping over the horizon for people living in Scottish towns and cities. It is unbelievable that we will have to wait another six years for clean air in Edinburgh and even worse that we have to wait until 2025 for clean air in Glasgow. These delays mean there is no end in sight for the thousands of Scots who suffer from air pollution.”

She added: “Air pollution aggravates asthma, and can cause heart disease, strokes, and lung cancer. We know that over 2,000 Scots die from the effects of air pollution each year, so these delays in meeting clean air standards mean even more unnecessary death and suffering.“

Scotland is breaking European laws on air pollution. Under EU rules, Europe could eventually impose hefty fines on the UK and Scotland if it fails to clean up its act. The public should not have to cough up the money to pay for the Government’s continued inaction. The public may have to pay out twice for air pollution, once for health care of those affected and then again through EU fines for government’s failure to act.

“The Scottish Government has thus far proved itself unwilling to take the steps necessary to tackle this public health crisis. It has been hoping for improvements in vehicle technology to solve the problem but it should be proactive in cutting traffic levels by halting new unnecessary road developments, investing more in walking and cycling, and improving public transport.

“The health impacts of air pollution are clear, the Government’s strategy is not. For the sake of people’s lives and wellbeing, air pollution needs to be tackled as an urgent priority. We cannot afford to wait any longer.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “These revised projections from Defra are very disappointing as previous projections suggested that all parts of Scotland would comply with legal limits for nitrogen dioxide pollution from traffic within the next couple of years.

“Although the UK, as member state, is ultimately responsible for its failure to comply with the nitrogen dioxide limits in the European air quality directive, Scotland takes our EU obligations very seriously.

“That is why we have been working hard – in close collaboration with local authorities, Transport Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Health Protection Scotland and other partners – to put in place a series of measures which have led to significant improvements in air quality in recent years, and our action plans set out the work being done to meet EU standards in the shortest possible time.”

via Scots cities ‘10 years behind on air quality’ – The Scotsman.

Posted in Air Quality, Europe, UK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Respro® Masks FAQ: How do I stop my glasses from misting up?

NOSE CLIPHow do I stop my glasses from misting up?

When using a mask with glasses, it is best to fit the mask first to get the correct fit with no seal leakage, then place the glasses in front of the nose clip on the mask. It is really dependent on the seal of the mask. Having adjustable nose pads facilitates a better fit than plastic moulded rims. A good seal around the nose and cheekbone will mean no leakage in that region which equals no misting. This is how/why glasses get misted up on the inside of the lens. In our experience most glasses wearers manage to figure a way of fitting glasses with a mask without them getting misted up.

For more frequently asked questions, go to Respro® Masks FAQ

Posted in Air Quality | Tagged | Leave a comment

Air quality alert issued for wildfire smoke

Smoky air that blew into Inland Northwest in a few hours Thursday afternoon likely will persist through at least Saturday as a 12-day heat wave gives way to moderating temperatures, but also gusty winds.

The blue-brown haze from Central Washington wildfire smoke sent air quality in Spokane from the good range Thursday morning to the unhealthy level by 4:30 p.m.

The government’s air quality index peaked at a reading of 154, just above the threshold of 150 for air pollution that is considered unhealthy for the general population. Similar readings were reported east of Spokane in North Idaho.

Forecasters said that fine particles from smoke can be a health hazard. They recommended reducing outdoor activities or staying indoors. Burning eyes, runny nose and scratchy throat are typical symptoms caused by smoke. Lung conditions can be aggravated.

A “red flag” alert for high fire danger from wind and low humidity was extended through 11 p.m. today with more winds in the forecast.

Gusts to 38 mph as measured at Wenatchee on Thursday prevented smoke plumes from rising into the sky. Instead, low-level winds spread the smoke eastward along the ground. Spokane reported gusts to 25 mph.

“It got bad real fast,” said Lisa Woodard, a spokeswoman for the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

She said the last time air quality approached Thursday’s level was during another outbreak of wildfires in central Washington in September 2012. The air quality index is on a scale of 1 to 500 with readings above 300 in the worst category, hazardous.

The smoke problem prompted the National Weather Service to post air quality alerts for the region, including North Idaho.

At least four major fires were burning across north central Washington, including the lightning-caused Chiwaukum Creek Fire west of Leavenworth, first detected on Tuesday after Monday thunderstorms.

That fire forced closure of U.S. Highway 2 between Leavenworth and Cole’s Corner on Thursday.

Residents of 860 homes have been told they should leave immediately, fire officials said. Another 800 homes were less seriously threatened. Light ash fell in Leavenworth, according to the Associated Press.

A group of lightning-caused fires, known as the Carlton Complex, had burned 4,400 acres near Winthrop, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. That fire started Monday.

The other big blazes are the Mills Canyon Fire near Entiat, which started July 8 and has burned 22,500 acres, and the R Road Fire near Mansfield, which started Wednesday and had burned 4,250 acres.

Numerous smaller blazes were reported across the region, including in Kittitas and Yakima counties.With the warm temperatures and gusty winds, Spokane County, the city of Spokane and Spokane Valley issued burn bans for most recreational fires. The bans apply to the cities of Liberty Lake and Millwood.

Under them, no outdoor recreational fires are allowed. Residents still can use backyard barbecues. Portable outdoor fireplaces are allowed if the device has a spark arrester and approved fuels such as seasoned firewood, propane or briquettes are used.

Until Thursday, smoke had stayed elevated in the atmosphere as a result of the hot weather pattern, which was favorable to rising smoke plumes.

Weather forecasters said the heat wave allowed a thermal low pressure area to build along the east side the Cascades, letting smoke rise vertically into the middle atmosphere, keeping it well above the ground through Wednesday. That weather feature has moved to the east as a weak cold front ushered in the winds and moderating temperatures on Thursday.

Smoky skies overhead created an eerie orange glow in Spokane on Thursday morning. From noon to 1 p.m., the visible smoke along the ground increased dramatically.

Winds through the weekend will be strengthened by cool Pacific marine air moving into the passes and gaps in the Cascades and spilling downward along the east slopes and across the Columbia Basin.

Ellie Kelch, a weather service forecaster in Spokane, said the smoke “is going to roll downhill into the basin.”

Overnight temperature inversions were expected to intensify smoke concentrations at dawn through Saturday and possibly Sunday. Highs should go from the upper 80s today to lower 80s on Sunday in Spokane.

Gusty winds are expected to return during the day through Saturday, initially clearing some of the smoke, only to be replaced by a new shot from the wildfires, Kelch said. Gusts to 30 mph are possible Saturday in Spokane.

Woodard said that clean air agency scientists hope moderating temperatures in the Cascades will reduce the volume of fire and smoke from Thursday’s levels.

The counties affected by the air quality alert are Spokane, Chelan, Okanogan, Douglas, Grant, Adams, Lincoln, Garfield, Asotin, Whitman, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille in Washington and all of North Idaho as far south as Nez Perce and Lewis counties.

A check of emergency rooms at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Providence Holy Family Hospital showed no patients with lung problems, but a doctor reported that as time goes on with poor air quality, patients with lung conditions may start appearing for treatment, a Providence spokeswoman said.

via Air quality alert issued for wildfire smoke – Spokesman.com – July 17, 2014.

Posted in Air Quality, USA & Canada | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment