The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launched Breathe London in July 2019 to get a better understanding of Londoner’s exposure to air pollution.
The project involved setting up 100 state-of-the-art sensor pods to lampposts and buildings around the city. Most of these sensors were near schools and nurseries that are particularly vulnerable to bad air. The results of these sensors are daily updated on the Breathe London website for all of us to see. Mr. Khan’s aim was not only to pinpoint new sources of pollution but to raise public awareness.
Which is coincidentally much like our own campaign at LIFE. From an early age, we’re taught about the different types of pollution and how they can damage our ecosystems, but most of this is abstract and rarely put into life-threatening context that directly affects us. However, I’ve found that if you can connect an issue with a person, you’re much more likely to reach them.
So while the LIFE Ambassadors began the process of creating a presentation on this year’s Air Quality campaign, we kept in mind that we had to make our information relatable. Instead of bombarding the students with what they already knew, we slipped in information that they probably didn’t. For instance, we all know that carbon dioxide is the largest and most prominent air pollutant, but there are many other gasses that are equally as dangerous.
For example, you might not have heard of VOCs which stand for Volatile Organic Compounds that cause smog. Or Carbon monoxide which stops healthy red blood cells from carrying oxygen around the body.
And our final villainous competitor, Formaldehyde, a gas that is generally emitted from fresh painted walls, beauty products and sprays. When the fumes from this gas reach us, they can cause nausea, irritation in the eyes and nose and headaches. For asthmatics, exposure to large amounts of formaldehyde can induce wheezing, asthma attacks and seizures.
All of these gasses (and a significant number more) can damage our health when inhaled in large amounts. Through the presentation, if we can convince our student body to make small changes, such as changing from a spray deodorant to roll on, it could have incredible effects on the quality of our school air.
And don’t fret, there will soon be a post on what small changes you could make to improve the air that you breathe. For now, this is all 🙂