Air pollution is driving a global public health crisis. It is responsible for one in nine deaths worldwide, and touches everyone given 92% of the human race live in places that do not meet World Health Organisation guidelines. As it is also driving a climate crisis – with additional and increasingly heavy health implications – doctors, nurses, public health practitioners and other healthcare professionals are coming together to call for practical solutions to cut pollution levels in cities and deal with both.
To increase health professional engagement and create visually compelling stories with them, I worked with the Global Call for Climate Action and the Global Climate and Health alliance to create a global initiative called Unmask My City, which draws together and amplifies new and ongoing efforts to clean up urban air pollution in difference cities.
Health groups are using air quality monitors, smartphones, and LED light masks I built from Habitatmap‘s great AirCasting tools. These masks change colour according to pollution levels, highlighting preventable, personal exposure to air pollution.
The AirBeam measures PM2.5 particulates and provides estimates of micrograms (one-millionth of a gram) per cubic meter air (µg/m3). The scale it uses is based on the revised Air Quality Index for PM2.5, and the colours mean:
- Green: Good quality air with little to no risk.
- Yellow: Moderate risks for those unusually sensitive to air pollution.
- Orange: Unhealthy for sensitive groups
- Red: Unhealthy for everyone, with sensitive groups potentially facing serious health effects.
While thick, soupy air pollution levels make headlines, it can often reach risky levels while remaining invisible. As risks can include asthma attacks, increased risks of heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory diseases and strokes, and climate change-related heatstroke, tropical disease spread, and more, making air pollution more visible is an important step to solving the problem.
The sources of and solutions to air pollution are clear. It is up to authorities to make better choices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get our cities into the World Health Organization’s green “healthy” air zone by 2030.
Neighborhoods subjected to deadly air quality can finally fight back (Popular Science)
Advocates urge public action on Utah air quality (Salt Lake Tribune)
The Utah Examiner (The Legal Examiner)
Chcemy czystego powietrza. Zaczęła się kampania Demaskujemy Smog (Gazeta Wyborcza)
Agnieszka Muras – Ile kosztuje walka ze smogiem (Rzeczpospolita)
‘Chennai’s posh areas not pollution free’ (The Hindu)
Maske ile havamız ölçüldü, sonuç vahim! (CNN Turk)
Campanha mobiliza médicos em combate à poluição nas cidades (Catraca Livre)
Campanha global contra poluição do ar mobiliza profissionais de saúde (Revista Ecológico)
Campanha quer avanço na medição da qualidade do ar (Diário Comércio, Indústria & Serviços)
Campanha global contra poluição do ar mobiliza profissionais da saúde em busca de soluções nas cidades (Antes que a natureza morra)
Profissionais de saúde se mobilizam contra poluição urbana (TV Meio Ambiente)
Campanha global contra poluição do ar mobiliza profissionais de saúde (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte – UFRN)
São Paulo sem máscara: respirar tem que ser seguro! (Procoletivo)
Campanha quer avanço na medição da qualidade do ar (GS Notícias)
Nota (Diário do Nordeste)
Making our cities healthier by unmasking them (Blogactive.eu)
Everyday Climate Change: International launch
Everyday Climate Change: Turkish launch