January was a big month in the world of air quality. Here are the top 6 things you need to know:
London breaches its annual pollution limit in just 5 days
London has a long, well-documented history of having bad air. In the 1850s, Dickens wrote about the “flakes of soot” that plagued the city streets as the city dealt with the effects of the industrial revolution. London has struggled with pollution for centuries, but in January, it turned into a full-blown crisis: just 5 days into the new year, many spots across the city breached their annual pollution limit. This is, unfortunately, a new record. Then, later in the month, pollution got even worse and the city went on “high alert”, urging residents to protect themselves from the dirty air. We wrote a full article about how this happened, and what steps the city can take to fix it. As air quality worsens, it’s clear that Londoners are starting to take notice: there was a weekend of creative events in central London a few weeks ago, aiming to raise awareness about the health effects of pollution and the significance of London’s issue.
Indoor air quality monitoring market projected to grow to $4.6 billion by 2022
Two January reports predicted strong growth for both indoor and outdoor air quality markets. The indoor market, for example, is expected to grow at CAGR of 9.22% from 2016-2022, going from $2.52 billion to over $4.6 billion. Another report predicted that the global air quality market, including outdoor monitoring products, will grow at CAGR of 7.57%. As air pollution worsens across the world, there has been steadily rising demand for monitoring products, like smart home devices, green building technologies, and digital health apps.
Oslo bans diesel cars in city center
For 2 days in January, the city of Oslo, Norway, banned diesel cars in an effort to improve air quality in a particularly bad spell of pollution. This is the first time the city has ever had to do this. “we can’t ask children, the elderly, and those suffering from respiratory problems to remain holed up at home because the air is too dangerous to breathe,” an Oslo city councillor said. Air pollution causes 185 deaths in Oslo every year, and it’s clear that the city is starting to take more drastic measures, when necessary, to help address the issue. Oslo isn’t the only Nordic city that’s been struggling with bad air: pollution in Stockholm was recently just as bad as Beijing.
Poland has become “The China of Europe”
It’s hard to blame the Nordic countries for their unusually high levels of pollution, though. Much of it was blown in from continental Europe. The worst offender? Poland, which, according to the WHO, has a staggering 33 out of the 50 most polluted cities in Europe. Measures must be taken in countries like Poland,” a Swedish official said, “which is one of Europe's most polluted countries.” The reason? Poland continues to be a coal-burning country, depending on fossil fuels while neglecting to make any significant shift towards renewable energy. The country has earned the moniker as the “China of Europe”: the levels of air pollutants in Warsaw registered reached a whopping 437 micrograms per cubic meter one day in early January, far above the EU’s standard of 50.
New study finds strong link between pollution and brain disease
There’s an increasingly strong link between air pollution and serious brain diseases, like alzheimer’s and dementia. This Science mag story, The Polluted Brain, follows the growing body of evidence on how pollution harms our brains and accelerates cognitive aging. A recent study, for example, found that people who live within 50 meters of a major road or heavily trafficked street were 12% more likely to develop dementia than those living more than 200 meters away. Cities across the world are starting to step up and combat pollution, but there’s still a long way to go: “I think air pollution will turn out to be just the same as tobacco—there’s no safe threshold,” said Caleb Finch, a neuroscientist at USC.
Beijing sets pollution reduction goals, but they’re not nearly enough
Beijing, the oft-cited example of the dangers of pollution, announced their new reduction targets for 2017. "We will work hard to keep PM2.5 at an annual average of around 60 micrograms per cubic metre," Beijing mayor Cai Qi said. The WHO’s acceptable standard for PM2.5 is just 10mg/cubic meter, which makes Beijing’s goal for the year ten times higher than what it should be. While there is clearly more work to be done, Beijing has made a serious, concerted effort to address pollution in the past few years. In 2016, its policies and investments in clean energy technologies paid off: air quality in the city improved by 9.9%. Even as they continue to struggle with pollution, look for Beijing to continue to improve its air quality throughout 2017.
Air quality is increasingly becoming a hot button issue for people, businesses, and governments across the world. Follow us on Twitter for news and innovative cleantech solutions. If your business is looking for real-time air quality data, feel free to set up a call with us. Thanks for reading!