Tag Archive: air pollution

A bumpy issue: Drive smoothly to reduce harmful effects of air pollution

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ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE: Health experts have said that local authorities should consider lower speed limits, clean air zones and even redesign speed bumps to improve air quality

ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE: Health experts have said that local authorities should consider lower speed limits, clean air zones and even redesign speed bumps to improve air quality

Accelerating or decelerating too rapidly leads to inefficient driving and fuel consumption with harmful emissions being released into the environment unnecessarily, a recent report has revealed.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is calling on businesses and transport services to educate their transport staff in more efficient ‘smooth’ driving skills, such as avoiding hard accelerations or decelerations and turning their engine off when at a standstill.

Being exposed to short-term and long-term air pollution caused by human activities can have a significant health impact, with harmful emissions and the environmental risks associated with pollution linked to around 25,000 deaths a year in England.

Road traffic causes more than 64 per cent of air pollution in urban areas. Air pollution and its health impact also costs the UK up to £18.6 billion a year.

Professor Paul Lincoln, chief executive of UK health forum and NICE guideline committee chair said: “Traffic-related air pollution is a major risk to the publics’ health and contributes to health inequalities.

“The NICE guidance sets out a strategic range of evidence based practical measures to encourage low or zero emissions transport. This is very timely given the imperative to meet EU and national air quality standards.”

The NICE draft guidance recommends local councils place buildings away from busy roads when drafting town or city plans. NICE also says cyclists should be screened from motorised traffic by shrubs or plants in situations where they are found to reduce air pollution.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE said: “The battle against air pollution has to be one we are all fully committed to.

“This draft guidance seeks to redesign how we work and live in cities. When finalised, its recommendations will ensure that everyone who has the power to make the changes required can be confident in the action they are taking.”

NICE’s draft recommendations on tackling air pollution are out for public consultation until 25th January 2017.

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Fireworks fuzziness: Birmingham and Indian scientists investigate air pollution causes

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REDUCED RANGE OF VISION: Fireworks during Diwali and Guy Fawke’s Night cause a sharp reduction in visibility

REDUCED RANGE OF VISION: Fireworks during Diwali and Guy Fawke’s Night cause a sharp reduction in visibility

Scientists at the University of Birmingham are working with partners in Delhi to better understand the causes, sources and effects of pollution in India and the UK.

Dr Francis Pope and Professor Mukesh Khare at the Indian Institute of Technology have co-organized a workshop in Delhi in December to investigate air pollution in the two countries.

The event is sponsored by the British Council and follows work at Birmingham which discovered that there is a sharp reduction in visibility caused by fireworks events marking occasions such as Diwali and Guy Fawkes’ night.

Birmingham scientists found that visibility was further decreased when the relative humidity was high.

Dr Pope, from the University’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, said: “Events such as Diwali celebrations and Guy Fawkes’ Night are attended and much enjoyed by many people in India and the UK. Unfortunately, these events can affect short term air quality and lead to significant reductions in visibility.

“We hope that our Delhi workshop will help us to better understand the causes, sources and effects of pollution in India and the UK and how they differ between the two countries. If forecasts suggest that planned displays will coincide with conditions likely to exacerbate poor visibility, then organisers and local authorities should be prepared to issue poor visibility warnings in advance. This precautionary measure could help to prevent unnecessary accidents.”

Dr Pope’s research used data taken over 13 years between 2000 and 2012 from 34 meteorological stations throughout the UK the scientists noted an average 25 per cent reduction in visibility caused by atmospheric particulate matter from fireworks and bonfires.

If the conditions are unfavourable then the visibility reduction can be much more severe; for example, visibility reductions of 64 per cent were seen in Nottingham.

Fireworks celebrations usually involve both bonfires and ground and air detonating fireworks. The particulate matter that is scattered after detonation is hygroscopic – its water content is dependent on the local relative humidity.

As the humidity increases so does the water content of the particulate matter, changing the average size and composition of each particle, which leads to the particle being able to scatter light more effectively and hence reduce visibility.

The effects, which were especially pronounced when humidity was high, raise concerns regarding motorist and pedestrian safety. The visibility reducing effect of the extra particulate matter loading in the atmosphere can last up to two days after the fireworks event.

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