Has the air pollution fight been forgotten amid pandemic?

Has the air pollution fight been forgotten amid pandemic?

Cork is a county in Ireland that has been ascribed the unfortunate handle of being one of the most polluted places on the planet - much to national and international surprise. According to a recently published article by Cork-based journalist Darragh Bermingham on EchoLIVE.ie, the air pollution fight has been forgotten amid the pandemic. In late January, the team here at Sonitus Systems published a piece referencing another one of Bermingham's articles about air pollution in Cork (https://www.sonitussystems.com/news/one-of-the-most-air-polluted-places-on-the-planet).

Professor John Sudeau, interviewed by Bermingham for this latest article, has made the claim that air pollution has been "pushed to one side" since the beginning of the lockdown period, however as we approach the winter season, having cautiously re-opened schools last month, there are many concerns about the public's health and air quality monitoring has become more important than ever. With the return of children to school, most towns and cities are seeing a return to traffic jams and congestion for the first time since early March.

It has been a difficult nine months. Inevitably, the back to school routines are impacted by the introduction of new health and safety protocols, which include staggered starting and finishing times for different classes. As most parents, guardians and childcare providers know, trying to get children motivated and back into the routine of early morning drop-offs is challenging at the best of times. Adding a new layer of procedures, however necessary, and multiple drop-off times is resulting in missed buses (where buses are still operating), unnecessary last-minute journeys and increased car-idling times. All of these activities add to the problem of poor air quality locally. People are now being asked to walk or cycle to school and where distance does not permit this, to avail of park-and-stride facilities and walk the final stage of the journey to school. There are so many health benefits for all the family in doing this, in addition to helping to reduce air pollution.

Since March, the sky has become clearer and quieter. This is due to restricted movements and, indeed, people no longer undertaking long journeys or driving unnecessarily. We need to be particularly mindful as we re-enter the world with a sense of normality that we do not make the same mistakes as we have before. Sudeau points out that air pollution can actually wear down and weaken defenses in vital organs and that Covid-19 "attacks similar organs".

Even prior to Covid-19, the ill health effects of air pollution had been well documented by the World Health Organisation (WHO). These effects can cause or contribute to a number of respiratory issues that put people's health at risk. The Environmental Protection Agency is where many usually turn to at this time of the year to view the level of NOx (nitrogen oxide) in their local areas. In fact, last week, to coincide with World Lung Day 2020, the EPA in Ireland launches its annual air quality report, which can be found at https://www.sonitussystems.com/news/irish-epa-publishes-air-quality-annual-report

As Sudeau points out in his above-mentioned interview:

"If there ever was a time for us to pressurise local councils and community activists to fight the release of air pollutants in a connected way, it is now".

Does your organisation require air quality monitoring? Sonitus Systems offers comprehensive air quality monitoring, using the latest technology and automated systems. We simplify the air monitoring process, giving you access to real-time data and online reporting. For more details on our air quality monitoring products and services, contact the team at Sonitus Systems

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