Air pollution is bad for you - official
11.09.08 by Buffalo Bill
A story headlined Capital’s couriers lungs in jeopardy in the ‘greenlondon’ section of thelondonpaper, quotes Alison McConnell of Brunel University as saying that new research indicated that exercising in polluted areas increased the amount of pollution particles breathed into the body.
Well, wow, that is truly astonishing news. Not really new news, though. Moving Target has been flagging the potential dangers to couriers from bad air for a couple of decades, and anti-pollution masks have been around for a while. And there have been a host of studies on the effects of urban air pollution on human health, like this study published by the BMJ in 2004, the conclusion of which was that athletes and exercisers should avoid exercising by the road side, which is less than totally helpful advice for couriers.
So what has prompted the re-emergence of this story now? A quick trawl through google reveals this interesting (in the context of this not-new-news story) snippet, published in PR Week, dated 5 Sep 2008:
Six Degrees has been appointed by Brunel University spin-off company LifeLab Innovations to promote Purebreathe, its respiratory protection device. The agency will target the sports and health media. Purebreathe is designed to filter air pollution, dust and pollen.
Call me cynical, but I think the two bits of non-news are NOT unrelated. While we are being cynical, let me expand on the point that I made to the lady from the Londonpaper, when she phoned me up to ask for my comments on the ‘story’. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wants to do away with the Low Emissions Zone. As MT reported before the election:
I have seen some figures that estimate that around 1000 Londoners die prematurely each year from respiratory illnesses caused directly, or indirectly by bad air, and it has been known that London suffers the worst air quality in the UK, and amongst the worst in Europe, for some time. The Low Emissions Zone forces commercial vehicle operators to clean up their vehicles’ exhaust, which should lead to significant improvements in air quality. Boris thinks this initiative is ‘the most punitive, draconian fining regime in the whole of Europe’.
If Boris was genuinely committed to improving the lot of cyclists, and wanted to do something positive, he ought to consider strengthening it, not doing away with it. Anyway. If you want to check out current reported levels of pollution, you can do so at the London Air Quality Network.