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The Air Pollution Crisis

Thursday, February 22, 2018 2:02
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Image by Freddie Marriage (via StockSnap.io)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has linked air pollution to over 5.5 million deaths per year and states that the issue should be a global concern as it is a greater threat to the world’s population than HIV and Malaria. The deadly smogs are causing huge damage to the health of city dwellers and many are wanted to see radial solutions to the issue.

In the UK the levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide are said to be life threatening and branded illegal by the EU. The UK government’s clean air strategy was described as ‘toothless and inadequate’ by many critics. The city has various low emission zone schemes which were designed to restrict high polluting vehicles from certain areas, however it is still one of the worst-polluted cities in the Europe.

Recently, the introduction of a large number of electric and hybrid buses on specific routes which have resulted in emissions improvements in air quality, demonstrating that there is scope for even more improvement on additional routes.

While London’s air pollution is at a serious and monumental high it actually pales in comparison to the levels that can be found in some of the world’s “mega-cities”.  Though the city has high pollution levels the most polluted areas are remain in China and India.

Other parts of the world are also beginning to implement new measures to tackle the issue such as buildings which absorb smog and pollutants and filtering devices. There are many projects ongoing that are being developed to deal with smog, some of the most notable ones are:

1. Smog-free towers – Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde has designed the smog-free towers which suck smog into a 7 metre tall tower and cleans the polluted air at a nano-level. THe clean air is released into open spaces and the carbon is put under pressure for 30 minutes and converted into diamonds.

2.Giant sprinklers – Yu Shaocai invented with the idea of installing giant sprinklers to clear the air. The giant sprinklers will spray water into the atmosphere of heavily-polluted cities causing the pollutants to get washed away.

3. Air-purifying billboard – The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC)  - designed a billboard that sucks pollution from the sky and returns purified air to the surrounding areas.

4. Vertical Forests – Architect Stefano Boeri has suggested filling cities with ‘vertical forests’ which help to deal with air pollution and add to the cities atmosphere making the air safer to breathe and absorbing carbon dioxide.

The Chinese government has vowed to make their skies blue again by cutting down on the country’s steel and coal capacity and putting substantial investment into renewable energy solutions instead. They also announced that the populations of both Beijing and Shanghai will be restricted with Beijing population being capped at 23 million and Shanghai’s population will be limited to 25 million.

The UK Government is currently being threatened with court action by the EU, as it is not an easy problem to solve. It will take time to develop the tactics and plans required to make a change to the levels of pollution in the city. The should be a balance of what could be done and what can be done without damaging the city in other ways.

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