AQI stands for Air Quality Index and it is the number or colour that indicates how good or bad is the air quality in your area. The problem with the AQI is the way each governments calculates the air pollution and what parameters it uses to project this Index number/colour. For example, the USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers as breakpoint for a “Moderate” NO2 concentration the value of 101μg/m3, but the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) considers as breakpoint for a “Moderate” NO2 concentration the value of 201μg/m3. The difference is huge and the Index changes dramatically for each country and at the end people get confused. The same rule applies for all the pollutants, PM2.5, SO2, O3, etc… Later they are combined all together to give us the final Index.
AQLI stands for Air Quality Life Index and only take into account the PM2.5 pollution. It is based on the finding that an additional 10μg/m3 of PM2.5 reduces life expectancy by 0.98 years. By combining this finding with satellite PM2.5 measurements around the world, the AQLI provides an insight into the global impacts of particulate pollution in local jurisdictions. The Index also illustrates how air pollution policies can increase life expectancy if pollution levels were reduced to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safe guideline or existing national air quality standards, or by user-selected percent reductions.
Could the AQLI replace the different AQIs worldwide?
Although it gives a better insight into the impact the air pollution has to our lives, it will not be able to convince people in countries where the impact of air pollution doesn’t translate to high “Life Years Saved” numbers. For example, we can clearly see from the table below that if China adjusts their policies according to the WHO Guideline the population will have a benefit of 2.9 years. However, if Netherlands adjusts their policies according to the WHO Guideline the population will have a benefit of 0.3 years. This is rather a small number and I am afraid people won’t take it as serious in western countries as they should. In my opinion the AQLI has to take into account how our quality of life (not only life expectancy) is affected by the air pollution. We may live longer but sometimes inside hospitals, under expensive insurances and medicines that not everyone can afford even in US, Europe, etc.
Moreover, the data that you see on the table above (extracted from the original document which you can find below) do not reflect the real air quality an individual has been exposed in his a city/town/village. They have created an annual average PM2.5 concentration and the aggregations are population-weighted, which means this map won’t help an individual to understand the air quality in his/her area. For instance, there is a small town in my region called Carboneras, the population is small but there is a coal power plant there (equipped with 48 coal burners). People’s life expectancy from that village won’t reflect on the annual PM2.5 concentration because the populations is small.
I really admire this exceptional work which is done by Michael Greenstone and Qing (Claire) Fan because we need a global way to understand the air pollition and its effects. They have developed a tool which can help to inform local communities and policymakers in Asian countries about the benefits of air pollution policies in very detailed way.
Here is an interesting new face mask made and assembled 100% in Europe by a Spanish company. The AirGO offers 2 unique features that makes it very alluring to purchase and use it everyday, while you work out or commute to work.
I was looking forward to review this mask as it has a unique design to adjust around the face. They call it 360º Facial fit with zero glue and zero Formaldehyde. It is supposed to protect you from the dead ends on both sides of the nose and chin, allows to better fit the facial contours as seen on the picture below.Read More »
We talk a lot about the common pollutants PM2.5 and PM10, but we have never had the chance to compare them between other pathogens and an abundant red unit which flows in our bodies and it is called red blood cell.
Summer is here and once more fires are burning woods and forests in the northern hemisphere from Greece to USA and unfortunately most of the times because someone irresponsible and crazy enough “thought” that he/she will benefit from it.
In this article I am going to discuss the chemical reactions that occur while wood is burnt and the gasses that release into the atmosphere.
It is well known that exposure to high levels of air pollutants raises the risk of physical illnesses such as respiratory infections, lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia and Alzheimer. However, there are new studies suggesting that air pollution is responsible for mental illnesses too.
Back in 1970 Lead Pb(from the Latin plumbum) was used to be added in the petrol fossil fuel, as a result, itwas later associated for contributing to behavioral problems, learning difficulties and lowered IQ among children.
In recent years, Sulphur Dioxide SO2, has been associated with a high risk of hospital admissions for mental disorders in Shanghai.Read More »
I can guess with high accuracy that your answer to the question of the image above is the Healthy Lung. If I guessed right, which I did, then I will advise you to be careful about what you breathe.
These are some gases that chemically poison the body’s oxygen transport systems, preventing oxygen from reaching the body tissues like the Carbon Monoxide CO, which combines with haemoglobin and blocks its ability to carry oxygen around the body, but there are some other gases that cause asphyxiation by producing severe irritation in the air passages and lungs like the Nitrogen Dioxide NO2.
NO2 dissolves in the moisture on any moist tissue surfaces, and forms strong acids or alkalis which then burn the delicate tissues. Health effects are related to its ability to dissolve in moisture to produce Nitric Acid which is a strong mineral acid.Read More »
The last few months and due to the lack of rain and the climate change some places in the world are facing extreme wildfires, most of the times manmade. Places like Galicia-Spain, Portugal and California-USA have been facing a great danger. The wildlife has been left without its habitat and humans without clean air. Unfortunately this kind of distraction creates enormous quantities of air pollution. A lot of times the air pollution spreads downwind from the fire source and even reaches other countries, so-called Cross Border pollution.
What kind of pollutants do the wildfires produce?
Mainly wood smoke contains a mixture of PM2.5, PM10 particles and various gases. More precisely wildfire smoke is a mixture of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds VOCs and a wide rage of particulate matter PMs that include ash, black carbon BC and organic carbon, such as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons PAHs.
The smoke is a very complicated mixture of pollutants in the air, and it affects human health. It comes from lots of different sources, including trees, decomposed leaves, animals, forest litter and sometimes from local houses. Even the composition of the air pollution is depending on the way the smoke is created, for example by smouldering or flaming.
How to protect yourselves?
If you live close to a forest then ask your local authorities how you can help to protect the Earth’s lungs. If you happen to be near a wildfire/forest fire then remember to wear a N95 or N99 face mask. Don’t expose yourself in the smoke for a long time, even the face masks have a limit. If you live near an ongoing wildfire, close the windows and seal your house from the outdoor air. Stay away from your house for a few days, ask a family member who lives far away from the fire to host you.
I can’t stand reading or watching on TV news regarding wildfires. The damage is huge especially when humans are responsable for them. My heart breaks every time. Please respect the environment. Thank you.
I am proud to announce my second book “Nicholas and his incredible eyesight” which is my second attempt to raise awareness on air pollution and this time by educating the youth.
The book is for all kids, the story is full of lovely and colourful drawings and at the end of the book the kids will have the opportunity to do some fun activities.
Synopsis of the story
Nicholas is a Scottish boy who lives in a small beautiful town in Scotland. He has to move with his family to London for a while. There and with the help of his teacher he will discover his unique super power.
The book is available on digital and paperback formats through the following stores:
If you are interested in a (Limited Edition) HardCover copy of my new book, please Contact me or Tweet me for more details.
In my recent visit in New York and in other USA cities I decided to take with me a portable carbon monoxide device and measure the air quality across the cities during my trip.
The CO Sensor was placed on a net pocket that I had sewed on my backpack. I am quite the craftsman! The experiment had to be done correctly to ensure that the air flowed easily and the measurements were taken correctly and constantly.Read More »