Fog. We’ve all been through it. Even by UK standards, the hazy cloud that recently hung over Britain is a bit unusual and, evidently, more than a bit disruptive. The visibility problems arising from fog make road and air travel more dangerous. However, even unusually heavy fog does not pose a danger to our health. It is only when fog combines with air pollutants to form smog that it can cause both short-term and long-term adverse effects on health. Short-term effects include upper respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis; long-term effects include cancer, lung and heart diseases.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “Outdoor air pollution is a major environmental health problem affecting everyone in developed and developing countries alike.” Children, in particular are most susceptible to the impacts of air pollution. In May this year, The Telegraph pointed to a Canadian study suggesting that babies who are exposed to traffic fumes are more likely to develop allergies. While in Delhi – the world’s most polluted city – almost half of the 4.4 million children living there already have irreversible lung damage.
A study by the journal, Nature, estimates that by 2050, the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution could double to 6 million a year. This figure does not take indoor air pollution into account. Estimated to cause 3.4 million deaths a year, the WHO claims that indoor smoke is a serious health risk for some 3 billion people who cook and heat their homes with biomass fuels and coal.
Consequently, the widely reported health effects associated with air pollution have spurred an increase in the range of products for people concerned about the quality of the air that they breathe.
Image credit: Electrolux Design Lab
Second runner up in the Electolux 2015 Design Lab competition, Air Shield by Dominykas Budinas is a baby stroller that creates a pure and clean microclimate. Inspired by car ventilation systems that recirculate the air inside the cabin, the buggy features a glass shield that protects its young passenger from harmful UV rays, polluted air and noise. Parents are able to communicate with the baby via an integrated microphone.
Image credit: Atmotube Facebook
Targeted at asthmatics and lung disease sufferers, parents of young children and the elderly, the Atmotube aims to raise awareness about both indoor and outdoor air quality. Laden with sensors, the portable device monitors the user’s immediate environment, continuously tracking air pollution levels; presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and harmful gases, like Carbon Monoxide (CO). To encourage users to avoid unhealthy places, the Atmotube pairs with a smartphone app that displays information about the air quality along with a personal Air Score.
Image credit: Kickstarter.com
Take clean air with you everywhere you go
Resembling a tall coffee flask, Clair B is a portable air purifier that utilizes dual filtration technology. The Korean-based project has reached its Kickstarter funding target and is aiming to start shipping orders in March 2016.
Capable of eliminating ultrafine dust, allergens, pollen, mould, cigarette smoke, vehicle exhaust gasses and more, the air purifier features a swivel vent system and can be used to create a clean personal space at home, in the office, car or while travelling.
Image credit: Kickstarter.com
21st century breathing mask
Aimed at health-conscious city dwellers, Airinum is a next-generation, urban breathing mask. The makers believe that “people who want to breathe healthy, should have a reliable and fashionable way to do so.” The Swedish start-up behind the breathing apparatus claims that, in tests, the Atrium mask offers up to six times better protection than competitor products. The brand aims to be the first ever to offer its masks via a subscription service.
Unsurprisingly, demand for face masks and air purifiers have shot through the roof in Beijing since the Chinese authorities issued the first ever red pollution alert for the capital earlier this week. The alert was prompted by measurements of PM2.5, the harmful microscopic particles in smog, which have risen above 300 in the country’s capital. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a maximum exposure of 25.
On Tuesday, under its red smog alert, 20 million-plus residents of Beijing were told to wear face masks outside; more than 2,100 businesses stopped operations or reduced output and 3,200 schools closed. Private car use has also been restricted, with half of all cars ordered off the road.
For some residents, however, the preferred option for escaping the poisonous smog is to take a trip out of the city. One online travel service has reported a 20 per cent rise in sales of packages marketed under a “Skip the Smog” label to people in Beijing. Sadly, you know it’s really come to something when “smog holidays” have become a thing.
Posted by PDD
The last thing that inspired me: Design and Innovation.
My dream project: A project that makes a difference in the world.
My obsession: Develop successful, award-winning and world-first products and experiences.
Image credit Beijing, China. Image credit: Quartz.com