Air pollution app for Games visitors
Posted on 25/07/2012
A breath of fresh air for Games visitors and athletes as scientists launch updated air pollution app
For the first time in Olympic history, Games visitors and athletes will be able to access real-time information about air pollution levels as they travel around the city thanks to an updated app and website developed by scientists at King’s College London.
Environmental science experts at King’s say the recent sunshine and low winds are exactly the conditions that can bring summertime smog to London and these new tools will help visitors to access the latest air pollution information.
The free London Air website and apps provide a map of Olympic venues along with air pollution information updated hourly, enabling people to see at a glance the pollution levels nearby. Hourly updated maps give street-by-street pollution levels to help London visitors to avoid exposure to highest levels of air pollution in the city, particularly if they are susceptible to respiratory problems.
London has the largest and most advanced air quality surveillance systems of any city in Europe. The system is funded by local and central government and run by King’s from an operations centre at the Waterloo campus where researchers combine air pollution science, toxicology and epidemiology to determine the impacts of air pollution on health and the causal factors.
The upgraded web site and apps also include: comparison of London’s air pollution levels to internationally recognised World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality guidelines in real-time; air quality forecasts during the Games period supplied by Defra; information on how pollution can affect health and advice on how to minimise exposure.
Dr Gary Fuller from the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London, said: ‘The effects of air pollution on athletes came to the fore during the 1984 Los Angeles Games, and has remained on the Olympic agenda ever since.
‘For the first time in the history of the Games spectators and athletes will be able to access real-time air pollution information on any mobile device, wherever they are in London. We hope this will be useful for spectators and athletes alike. It will be particularly useful for people who are susceptible to respiratory problems, such as asthma, so they can avoid pollution hot-spots.’
Commenting on the outlook for the week, Dr Fuller said: ‘Wet and windy weather has been good for air pollution this year but the recent sunshine and low winds has led to the greatest concentrations of ground-level ozone since the end of May and may cause some summertime smog over London in the run up to the Games. We will be monitoring air pollution levels extremely closely this summer. Our new apps will ensure people can access air quality information everywhere, every hour.’
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'I have introduced a wide range of measures to improve air quality including the first ever age limit for taxis and record numbers of cleaner buses.
'But it is vitally important people have access to timely information about pollution episodes, especially during hotter, sunnier weather. So I welcome the development of this fantastic new app by the world-leading team at King's College which will provide invaluable information direct to smart phones and other devices.'
During the London 2012 Games, researchers from King’s will monitor air pollution levels and provide this information to the Health Protection Agency so it can assess potential public health risks caused by air pollution during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Athletes are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution as a consequence of their heavy training regimes and high breathing rates during competition, which increases their pollution dose. Monitoring air pollution levels in the lead-up and during the Games is crucial to assess and manage health risks to athletes who will be competing in the Games.
Researchers from King's were also asked to give evidence to the International Olympic Committee about pollution data for London which might affect the 2012 Games. Pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide mainly affect wide areas of London during the winter, but each week in August there is a 10 to 20 per cent chance of ground level ozone exceeding World Health Organisation Guidelines.
Visit the London Air site at www.londonair.org.uk and http://www.londonair.org.uk/LondonAir/2012GamesVisitors/
Get details of the iPhone, Android and Google Chrome apps at www.londonair.org.uk/LondonAir/MobileApps/
For further information or images of the updated apps please contact Emma Reynolds, PR Manager (Health) at King’s College London on 0207 848 4334 or email@example.com
For further information about King’s, visit our ‘King’s in Brief’ page.