A tool, mobile application or webform which allows people to search by area to see if their house/school etc is in an air quality management area and which displays the latest Defra air pollution forecasts or measurements and associated health advice.
Can we measure air pollution and reporting it in real-time?
Recent reports from a number of sources confirm that poor air quality is harmful to human health and the environment:
“Poor air quality is shortening the life expectancy of people in the UK by an average of seven to eight months and is costing society up to £20 billion per year. It called for an urgent step change in policy to reduce pollution from transport.”
House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee
“Adverse health effects from short and long term exposure to air pollution range from premature deaths caused by heart and lung disease to worsening of asthmatic conditions and can lead to reduced quality of life and increased costs of hospital admissions.
“Air pollution can cause damage to plants and animals, to aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, impacting on biodiversity and damaging valued habitats.
“Air pollution may enhance or reduce the services ecosystems can deliver. For example, deposition of the plant nutrient nitrogen can increase forest and crop production. However, this enrichment of nutrients (eutrophication) can also lead to a reduction in species diversity and therefore the pollination and aesthetic services of some ecosystems.”
Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
“The Aphekom study is the first to look at whether pollution triggers long-term complaints, rather than exacerbating symptoms of people who already have an illness. The results showed that 15% of asthma cases among under-17s, 23% of chronic bronchitis cases and 25% of cardiovascular diseases among over-65s could be linked to air pollution generated from living near a busy road. Figures from the EU-supported project also showed that reducing air pollution levels would lead to significant health and monetary benefits.”
European Lung Foundation
“Long term exposure to air pollutants is associated with increased mortality, warns a major UK report published this week, which has also defined the most useful measure of air pollution in developing strategies to reduce adverse effects on health.”
British Medical Journal (BMJ 2009;338:b2532)
A number of areas have been identified as having poor air quality and as a result are actively managed as an Air Quality Management Area.
To develop a tool/app which allows people to search by area to see if their house/school etc is in an air quality management area. This provides important information about long-term exposure to air pollution. Short term exposure is also important and air pollution changes from day to day. It is important that the general public and in particular, people who are vulnerable to the effects of air pollution such as those with heart and lung conditions are kept informed. Therefore the app could include information, such as health advice and recommended actions based on air quality forecasts or measurements using the Daily Air Quality Index (see http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/air-pollution/daqi).
In addition to utilising street mapping data (e.g. from OpenStreetMap or Ordnance Survey), Defra has data on the location of local authority air quality management areas. Defra provides RSS feeds of forecast and measured air pollution data which display the latest Daily Air Quality Index value with location information.
Other air quality data available is outlined here (pdf document):
 House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee 2011: Air quality – a follow up report http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmenvaud/1024/1024.pdf
 Defra 2010: Air pollution: action in a changing climate https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69340/pb13378-air-pollution.pdf
 Aphekom (Improving Knowledge and Communication for Decision Making on Air Pollution and Health in Europe) aims to help decision makers set more effective European, national and local policies; health professionals to better advise vulnerable individuals; and all Europeans to better protect their health. See http://www.aphekom.org.
 European Lung Foundation: http://www.european-lung-foundation.org/16408-pollution-levels-leading-to-shorter-life-expectancy.htm