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App shows outdoor workers exposed to higher air pollution

Data from a free mobile app developed by King’s and the British Safety Council show outdoor workers are exposed to up to 15% more pollution that the average Londoner.

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Over six months the Canairy app, part of the British Safety Council’s Time to Breathe campaign, has tracked data from two categories of Londoners: one group working mostly outside and the other working mainly in offices.

Although both groups encountered high levels of air pollution, results show that those working outside experienced worse pollution than the average Londoner, based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Air Quality report for 2018. Outdoor workers faced air pollution averages exceeding guidelines for nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10). Some recorded maximum exposures were almost two thirds greater than limits recommended by the WHO.

 

This report begins to lift the lid on what has been an overlooked group in the air quality debate – outdoor workers. Whilst most people spend around 90% of their time indoors, right across the country outdoor workers are working long hours often right next to busy roads.– Andrew Grieve, Senior Air Quality Analyst at King’s

According to the WHO air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk, and reducing levels of air pollution could save millions of lives. The British Safety Council is campaigning to improve ambient air quality and has called on the government to adopt WHO guidelines in the new Environment Bill.

Andrew Grieve, Senior Air Quality Analyst at King’s said: "The Canairy app we developed has helped us gain an insight into this group’s exposure but given what we know about the health impacts of air pollution, it’s imperative now we investigate further to get a better understanding of this group and how we may better protect their health."

As well as providing workers and employers with insights into air pollution through the Canairy app, the British Safety Council is also working on practical solutions to mitigate the impact of air pollution on outdoor workers.

Read the full report here.