Risks of Air Pollution - Identified by the World Health Organisation
Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma.
The lower the levels of air pollution, the better the cardiovascular and respiratory health of the population will be, both long- and short-term.
The "WHO Air quality guidelines" provide an assessment of health effects of air pollution and thresholds for health-harmful pollution levels.
In 2014, 92% of the world population was living in places where the WHO air quality guidelines levels were not met.
Ambient (outdoor air pollution) in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause 3 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012.
Some 88% of those premature deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, and the greatest number in the WHO Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions.
Policies and investments supporting cleaner transport, energy-efficient housing, power generation, industry and better municipal waste management would reduce key sources of urban outdoor air pollution.
Reducing outdoor emissions from household coal and biomass energy systems, agricultural waste incineration, forest fires and certain agro-forestry activities (e.g. charcoal production) would reduce key rural and peri-urban air pollution sources in developing regions.
Reducing outdoor air pollution also reduces emissions of CO2 and short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon particles and methane, thus contributing to the near- and long-term mitigation of climate change.
In addition to outdoor air pollution, indoor smoke is a serious health risk for some 3 billion people who cook and heat their homes with biomass fuels and coal.
Making the Most of Available Funding – Community Infrastructure Levy
Product development needn’t be as costly as you might think.
The Community Infrastructure Levy (C.I.L.), introduced in 2008, allows a local authority to charge developers to invest in the regeneration of the local area - this includes improvements to neighbourhood air quality and investment in green infrastructure.
This means that new developments may generate funding for specific forms of air pollution mitigation, providing the ideal incentive for the integration of innovative bio-technologies.
The need to strengthen urban green infrastructure is becoming more and more prevalent on both a domestic and international level.
The European Commission is calling for the promotion of Green Infrastructure by making it in integral part of new developments as a means of securing biodiversity in the future of cities. The commission offers numerous programmes for the assisted funding of new green infrastructure innovations.
More locally, governing bodies such as the City of London Corporation have addressed the need for new green infrastructure in their most recent planning guidance. These new documents cite innovations in the use of natural materials and processes as a preferred means of pollution mitigation.
Without treatment, outdoor air quickly becomes indoor air!
Whatever the building type, if it is located on a busy street then the occupants risk being subjected to harmful levels of air pollutants from vehicle emissions.
Knowing the Enemy
At Greenworks we recognise that the air quality issues we face are multifaceted.
For instance - there are not daily peaks in pollution levels which coincide with weekday rush hours, but also yearly peaks during the winter period. This is because of many factors, including increased use of gas powered heating for homes and offices, and higher dependence on private cars and taxis during poor weather conditions.
At a time when sunlight is most limited, and vegetation performs at its lowest air cleaning capacity, we cannot rely solely on traditional greenery to keep pollution at bay. A combination of biological understanding and engineering innovation are required to keep up with the changing face of air quality.