The air in London is literally one of the most annoying things about living here, and recently it’s been worse than ever. On Monday we hit ‘black level’. BLACK. Although this is particularly bad, it isn’t just a one off. In fact, 92% of the population live somewhere where WHO air quality guideline levels aren’t met.
As well as obviously being an environmental issue, it also affects health as air pollution is carcinogenic. The reduction of air pollution reduces chances of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. (source) You can also read about specific pollutants and health effects here.
So that’s not that nice really. But don’t worry, there are things we can do.
Download the Plumelabs air report app
This free, advert free app is as easy as checking the weather. Air quality can massively vary in just a few hours, this app tracks air pollution in your city in real time and provides hourly air quality forecasts, meaning you can plan your daily activities around the air, as the app gives advice on outdoor sports, cycling, taking children outside or eating outside. Thinking about going for a run? You can check and if the air pollution levels are too high, maybe wait until a time with a lower pollution forecast instead. The app uses location services and tracks pollution in over 350 cities, meaning that you can both compare air pollution levels in different cities and still receive up to date your information for your location if you visit another part of the world. It also provides pollution alerts, letting you know if the air becomes particularly bad in your area. All in all, it helps you make planning an easy breath of fresh air (even if the real air isn’t actually that fresh)
Sort out your indoor space
This is oh so important. I wrote a list for Ethical Advent of the best plants to invest in that purify the air in your home – you can read that here. If you’re having to walk around in polluted air outside then making the air in your home as clean as possible will do wonders for you. Also…
– Make sure to also ventilate your home once a day, opening all the windows for about 10 minutes to renew the indoor air (you can use the Plumelabs app to see when is best for this).
– Try to keep your home well ventilated and not too damp to avoid mould (maybe invest in a dehumidifier if necessary).
– Avoid overheating as heat enables gas release, the ideal indoor temperature is between 19 and 21 degrees celsius. If you’re cold, get a blanket rather than turning up the heat.
– Make smart choices about your cleaning products, which can be filled with irritant substances. If you can, find multi-use products to avoid combining a lot of irritant molecules, and store them in a ventilated, closed area. (I would recommend Bio-D, as their entire range is hypo-allergenic and plant based, but you can also get some good cleaning done with vinegar!)
Order a WAIR scarf
WAIR is a French company that have designed the world’s first anti-pollution scarf. It’s essentially a scarf with a mask built into it; the mask has a triple layer filter which stops micro-particles, pollen and bacteria from being breathed in. You wear your WAIR like a regular scarf, but if you enter areas with high levels of air pollution simply pull it up over your nose and mouth, and you’re sorted. The mask is specifically designed to completely seal over the nose/mouth area, so your air supply is totally filtered. The filter does need to be changed regularly every 1-2 months, but the long term health benefits make it a pretty worthy investment, and WAIR has also designed an app to remind you when it’s time to change out your filter, as well as alerting you when you enter areas of high pollution so you know to pull your scarf up.
Their products are currently available for pre-order, but will available from Spring 2017, so not far off!
Get outside (just not that outside)
If you live in a city like London, see if you can get out of the city occasionally, perhaps for a Saturday trip. Take a train to somewhere with fresher air and breathe in that goodness. If you can’t get out, try and find an indoor garden in the city or a large park on the outskirts (Crystal Palace Park is an absolute winner) or something similar. On Sundays when I can I try and get to Barbican’s Conservatory, which holds over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees, and just breathe. For a list of other London indoor gardens, check here.
Join the campaign for clean air
Remember that change starts with us:
– If you can choose walking, bikes or public transport over cars.
– If you’re getting a new car, choose one with better energy efficiency or go electric.
– Depending on where you live you may be able to request your power be supplied by renewable sources.
– Eating seasonally and shopping locally cuts down on fuel used to transport food to you.
– Support and elect leaders and local representatives who make clean air, clean water, and climate change key parts of their policies and priorities.
And if you live in the U.K. you can join the Healthy Air Campaign, which advises you to write to your MP, get involved on social media or see if there’s already a group local to your area campaigning about air pollution. They also have a downloadable guide to air pollution campaigning here which has all the info you could ever need and more.
I hope some of this helps, stay safe out there folks!
Until next time, stay magic y’all.