Outdoor air pollution is responsible for 8.8m early deaths a year – higher even than the figure for smoking. It means that humans are losing three years of their lives on average, German researchers have found. Here in Britain the figure is 1.5 years.
The study measured PM2.5 – atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that has a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is so small they can only be detected with an electron microscope. Fine particles can come from motorised vehicles, residential wood burning, volcanic eruptions and dust storms. They are so light they remain airborne for longer which increases the chances of us inhaling them – and they are so small, they can enter our circulatory system.
It is estimated estimated that for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) increase in fine particulate air pollution, there is an associated 4, 6 and 8 per cent increased risk of all-cause, cardiopulmonary and lung cancer mortality, respectively.
Win your own air pollution monitor
This rechargeable air pollution monitor measures PM2.5 in real time and is small enough to be carried while walking or cycling. When the green light is on, the air quality is good. The orange light indicates mild air pollution and red warns of heavier air pollution. Remember that risk to health from air pollution is calculated on the basis of average values over a 24-hour period. In other words, a high reading on the personal pollution monitor need not be a cause of immediate concern but it will be a valuable indicator of local air quality.
To be in with a chance of winning the air pollution monitor, simply leave us a comment at the bottom of this page.
The ethical choice
The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance, travel insurance, breakdown cover and home insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.