Air Quality

China leads the ranking of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitting countries, followed by the US and the EU member states. The powerful greenhouse gas is one of the substances that contribute most to global warming and climate change, but it is not the only one. Many other compounds, known as climate pollutants, influence the amount of solar energy that the Earth retains... and cause not a few health problems.

HOW DO YOU MEASURE AIR QUALITY IN CITIES?

At the end of 2017, the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Commission launched a new European Air Quality Index (EQI), which allows users to check air quality at more than 2,000 measurement stations across Europe. This index, which provides up-to-date information on air quality in the EEA's 33 member countries, includes national profiles as local public administrations have to adapt their measurements to take account of factors such as demographics, transport infrastructure, etc. These measurements monitor air quality standards and control the levels of ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2)... and all pollution generated by particles that can pose serious health risks.

The environmental agency EPA is responsible for the index in the U.S. while the National Center for Environmental Monitoring in China (NCEMC) is the body responsible for compiling, analysing, aggregating and publishing the data of the different air indicators in that country.

HOW CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT THE AIR QUALITY IN MY CITY?

On websites, through apps... and even Google provides us with this information. All you have to do is type in air quality, followed by the name of the city, and it will show you a bar that indicates in real time the air quality and the main pollutant in a location. This is how the Air Quality Index (AQI) value is obtained from the measuring stations distributed in the cities and, when there is no ground level, from the satellites.

There are both short and long term health effects of air pollution, with long term and long term exposure being the most significant for public health. Most of the deaths attributable to air pollution in the general population are related to non-communicable diseases. Indeed, 36% of lung cancer deaths, 35% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 34% of strokes and 27% of ischemic heart disease are attributable to air pollution. However, the greatest impact is on child mortality, as more than half of the deaths of children under 5 from acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) are due to particles inhaled from indoor air pollution from the use of solid fuels.