Nine London streets in ‘ultra-low emission’ vehicle scheme

rivingtonPetrol, diesel and older hybrid cars have been banned from nine London streets in a “pioneering” scheme.

Only electric cars, the newest hybrids, hydrogen vehicles and bikes or e-bikes will be allowed during the morning and evening rush hours in London’s first “ultra-low emissions zones”.

Other drivers face fines of £130.

Residents backed the scheme in a consultation, but others have criticised it for creating “two tiers” of motoring.

The scheme has been implemented by Hackney and Islington Councils.

Councillor Claudia Webbe, of Islington Council, said: “We are proud to be leading from the front with Hackney in this pioneering scheme – the first of its kind in the UK.”

Councillor Feryal Demirci, of Hackney Council, said the move would “reduce people’s exposure to dangerous fumes and make the streets safer when people are walking and cycling to and from work and school”.

A consultation of people living near the zones was supported by 70% of those that took part.

But Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at, described the scheme as the start of a “two-tier system of motoring – those who can afford it and those who can’t”.

She told the BBC: “Our own study has shown that many people would like to own an electric vehicle but are put off by the cost but also the lack of charging infrastructure.”

The zones will operate from 07:00 – 10:00 and 16:00 – 19:00 Monday to Friday. They will be policed using automatic number plate recognition.

The affected roads, which are all near Old Street, are:

  • Blackall Street
  • Cowper Street
  • Paul Street
  • Tabernacle Street
  • Ravey Street
  • Singer Street
  • Rivington Street
  • Willow Street
  • Charlotte Road

Local businesses and residents are exempt from the scheme.

via Nine London streets in ‘ultra-low emission’ vehicle scheme – BBC News

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Pollutionwatch: summer’s deadly wildfires cause pollution worldwide

Widespread wildfires have taken lives and destroyed habitats as well as causing air pollution


Wildfires are spanning the northern hemisphere. Local impacts have been severe; notably the loss of habitat and life, including the tragic deaths in Greece. Smoke has caused air pollution problems in nearby cities, exposing millions of people. Moorland fires affected air pollution in Manchester. Cities on the west coast of the US and Canada, including Seattle and Vancouver, issued pollution alerts as forest fire smoke turned day into night. During a national league soccer game in Oregon players had breaks every 15 minutes and oxygen was provided for them. But the smoke spreads further. Smoke from Siberian forest fires crossed the Arctic to reach North America in July . Weather models and satellite pictures showed that smoke from North American forest fires crossed the Atlantic in the high atmosphere and reached Europe in mid-August, causing purple skies in southern Ireland.

study in 2011 estimated that between 260,000 and 600,000 early deaths were attributable to air pollution from landscape fires each year. The annual toll normally varies with the La Niña/El Niño cycle that causes yearly variations in global weather. The effects of this year’s fires have yet to be estimated.

via Pollutionwatch: summer’s deadly wildfires cause pollution worldwide | Environment | The Guardian

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Air pollution can put a dent in solar power

Air pollution, especially in urban areas, can significantly reduce the power output from solar panels, and needs to be considered when design solar installations in or near cities.

Ian Marius Peters, now an MIT research scientist, was working on solar energy research in Singapore in 2013 when he encountered an extraordinary cloud of pollution. The city was suddenly engulfed in a foul-smelling cloud of haze so thick that from one side of a street you couldn’t see the buildings on the other side, and the air had the acrid smell of burning. The event, triggered by forest fires in Indonesia and concentrated by unusual wind patterns, lasted two weeks, quickly causing stores to run out of face masks as citizens snapped them up to aid their breathing.

While others were addressing the public health issues of the thick air pollution, Peters’ co-worker Andre Nobre from Cleantech Energy Corp., whose field is also solar energy, wondered about what impact such hazes might have on the output of solar panels in the area. That led to a years-long project to try to quantify just how urban-based solar installations are affected by hazes, which tend to be concentrated in dense cities.

Now, the results of that research have just been published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, and the findings show that these effects are indeed substantial. In some cases it can mean the difference between a successful solar power installation and one that ends up failing to meet expected production levels — and possibly operates at a loss.

After initially collecting data on both the amount of solar radiation reaching the ground, and the amount of particulate matter in the air as measured by other instruments, Peters worked with MIT associate professor of mechanical engineering Tonio Buonassisi and three others to find a way to calculate the amount of sunlight that was being absorbed or scattered by haze before reaching the solar panels. Finding the necessary data to determine that level of absorption proved to be surprisingly difficult.

Eventually, they were able to collect data in Delhi, India, providing measures of insolation and of pollution over a two-year period — and confirmed significant reductions in the solar-panel output. But unlike Singapore, what they found was that “in Delhi it’s constant. There’s never a day without pollution,” Peters says. There, they found the annual average level of attenuation of the solar panel output was about 12 percent.

While that might not sound like such a large amount, Peters points out that it is larger than the profit margins for some solar installations, and thus could literally be enough to make the difference between a successful project and one that fails — not only impacting that project, but also potentially causing a ripple effect by deterring others from investing in solar projects. If the size of an installation is based on expected levels of sunlight reaching the ground in that area, without considering the effects of haze, it will instead fall short of meeting its intended output and its expected revenues.

“When you’re doing project planning, if you haven’t considered air pollution, you’re going to undersize, and get a wrong estimate of your return on investment,” Peters says

After their detailed Delhi study, the team examined preliminary data from 16 other cities around the world, and found impacts ranging from 2 percent for Singapore to over 9 percent for Beijing, Dakha, Ulan Bator, and Kolkata. In addition, they looked at how the different types of solar cells — gallium arsenide, cadmium telluride, and perovskite — are affected by the hazes, because of their different spectral responses. All of them were affected even more strongly than the standard silicon panels they initially studied, with perovskite, a highly promising newer solar cell material, being affected the most (with over 17 percent attenuation in Delhi).

Many countries around the world have been moving toward greater installation of urban solar panels, with India aiming for 40 gigawatts (GW) of rooftop solar installations, while China already has 22 GW of them. Most of these are in urban areas. So the impact of these reductions in output could be quite severe, the researchers say.

In Delhi alone, the lost revenue from power generation could amount to as much as $20 million annually; for Kolkata about $16 million; and for Beijing and Shanghai it’s about $10 million annually each, the team estimates. Planned installations in Los Angeles could lose between $6 million and $9 million.

Overall, they project, the potential losses “could easily amount to hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars annually.” And if systems are under-designed because of a failure to take hazes into account, that could also affect overall system reliability, they say.

Peters says that the major health benefits related to reducing levels of air pollution should be motivation enough for nations to take strong measures, but this study “hopefully is another small piece of showing that we really should improve air quality in cities, and showing that it really matters.”

via Air pollution can put a dent in solar power — ScienceDaily

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London boroughs to impose ultra-low emission zones

All but the cleanest vehicles to be banned from nine streets in Islington and Hackney


Two London councils are to ban all but the cleanest vehicles from some areas at peak times to help tackle the city’s air pollution crisis.

In the UK’s first scheme of its kind, only ultra-low emission vehicles such as electric cars, e-bikes, and the newest hybrids and hydrogen vehicles will be allowed on nine streets in Hackney and Islington from 7am-10am and 4pm-7pm on weekdays.

From 3 September, drivers of petrol, diesel and older hybrid vehicles will incur a fine if they travel into the CCTV-monitored areas.

The scheme is an attempt to “reclaim the streets” from polluting vehicles and improve quality of life in an area with among the worst air quality in London.

“Failing to act on poor air quality, which causes nearly 10,000 premature deaths across London every year, is not an option, and that’s why we’re being bolder than ever in our efforts to tackle it,” said Feryal Demirci, the deputy mayor of Hackney.

“We’re thrilled to be launching our ultra-low emissions streets – the first of their kind in the UK – which will reclaim the streets from polluting petrol and diesel vehicles, and improve the area for thousands of people every day.”

Similar initiatives could become more common across the UK as awareness of the effects of poor air quality increases.

“Our ultimate goal is to reclaim the streets from polluting motor vehicles – this groundbreaking scheme is the first step towards doing that,” Demirci said in March when the scheme was announced.

The original scheme was backed by 70% of people living within 10km of the affected roads, while 56% of respondents to a more recent consultation said they were in favour.

Claudia Webbe, Islington council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “Air pollution is a huge issue for Islington residents… and we are proud to be leading from the front to tackle this life or death issue.

“This ground-breaking proposal for ‘electric streets’ – the first of its kind in the UK – will prioritise low-pollution transport such as electric cars and cut polluting vehicles during peak hours in the streets surrounding Central Foundation Boys school in Islington – the most polluted state secondary in London.”

The ban on polluting vehicles comes as Hackney council announced plans to install around 180 electric vehicle charging points, in addition to the existing 22 across the borough, in the next year.

The ultra-low emissions streets initiative is partially funded by the mayor of London’s air quality fund and the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

via London boroughs to impose ultra-low emission zones | Environment | The Guardian

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Air pollution is making us dumber, study shows

Air pollution could be more damaging to our health than previously thought, according to a new study, which found that prolonged exposure to dirty air has a significant impact on our cognitive abilities, especially in older men.

According to the study published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, breathing polluted air causes a “steep reduction in verbal and math tests scores.”
Researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) examined data from the national China Family Panel Studies longitudinal survey, mapping the cognitive test scores of nearly 32,000 people between 2010 and 2014 against their exposure to short and long-term air pollution.

Researchers found that both verbal and math scores “decreased with increasing cumulative air pollution exposure,” with the decline in verbal scores being particularly pronounced among older, less educated men.

“The damage air pollution has on ageing brains likely imposes substantial health and economic cost, considering that cognitive functioning is critical for the elderly to both running daily errands and making high-stakes economic decisions,” study author Xiaobo Zhang of Peking University said.

Cognitive decline or impairment, which could be caused by air pollution according to the study, are also potential risk factors in developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.


Poor hardest hit

While the study adds to the already numerous health concerns regarding air pollution, it will be of particular concern to developing nations, whose smoggy cities could be hampering national economic development.

“The damage on cognitive ability by air pollution also likely impedes the development of human capital. Therefore, a narrow focus on the negative effect on health may underestimate the total cost of air pollution,” Zhang said. “Our findings on the damaging effect of air pollution on cognition imply that the indirect effect of pollution on social welfare could be much larger than previously thought.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nine out of every 10 people on the planet breathe air containing a high level of pollutants, with the worst affected regions being Africa and Asia.

Of the world’s top 20 most polluted cities, as measured by the WHO, all are in developing countries. Almost all cities in low to middle-income countries with more than a million residents fail to meet minimum WHO guidelines.
City dwellers aren’t the only ones breathing in smog either, a study in January found that 75% of deaths related to air pollution in India were in rural areas.

While some countries, including China, are taking measures to address air pollution, this will also potentially effect economic growth.

Meanwhile, the wealthiest city dwellers are able to buy their way out of smog.

In Beijing, the rich are specially designing their homes and buying appliances to filter out pollutants in their air and water, while poorer residents are stuck breathing in the unfiltered smog, affecting not only their health but also, according to the new study, their cognitive abilities.

via Air pollution is making us dumber, study shows – CNN

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Seattle and Portland Air is Now Dirtier Than Most Polluted Cities in Asia

For now, two of America’s cleanest cities have dirtier air than the the most polluted cities in Asia.


IN THE DAMP and dreary Pacific Northwest, where moss climbs the trees and moisture dribbles down lamp posts and seems to seep through almost everything, the reward for surviving another year wrapped in oppressive mist and grey clouds used to be a lush, bright, sky-blue late summer.


“Most folks I know tend to try not to leave Seattle in August,” says Karin Bumbaco, Washington State’s assistant state climatologist.


But for much of the last two weeks, air over three of North America’s dampest, cleanest cities was dingier than the skies over Mumbai, Jakarta, and every major industrial city in China. For a brief period Wednesday evening, when it comes to the fine particles of pollution that can lodge in your lungs and make breathing difficult—even if you’re a healthy adult— the dirtiest major city on earth was Vancouver, British Columbia. Seattle and Portland rounded out the top three.

The hundreds of wildfires burning in almost every direction for weeks has transformed the Northwest into a gauzy orange blanket of haze, trapping entire cities in their homes, putting agriculture workers at risk, and even straining life for some animals. In a region known for its clean air, dangerous skies in August have become the norm in three of the last four years.

As climate change warms the West’s forests, setting the stage for ever-bigger and longer-lasting fires, a growing, overlooked threat is the risk from smoke. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that wildfire smoke now accounts for 40 percent of the country’s particulate matter pollution.


“In the coming decades, we think wildfires could as much as double across the West,” says Andrew Wineke, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Ecology. “What’s going to happen to all that smoke?”

Nowhere has that smoke been more visible this year than in the Pacific Northwest.

Calls To Stay Inside

For days on end this month, Seattle and Portland have faced warnings from state and local officials that the thick gauzy skies are actually unhealthy for adults and children alike. The air quality index for levels of PM 2.5, the small particles of pollution that can enter the bloodstream, frequently topped 150, which can irritate the eyes and spark coughing fits just spending time outdoors. In rural parts of the states, those numbers often topped 400.


NASA reported that smoke was so thick it could be seen on images from space. Hospitals have seen an uptick in respiratory complaints. Pools closed. Soccer practices were canceled, and apple pickers on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains were encouraged to wear masks—when they were able to work at all. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport rerouted planes because visibility was so poor.

At the Seattle Aquarium, a sea otter with asthma was even treated with an inhaler, according to a report in The Seattle Times.


“It’s pretty bad out there—it’s just gross,” says Kathie Dello, deputy director of Oregon’s Climate Service at Oregon State University. “You wake up in the morning and the sky is brown and the sun is red and it’s like that day after day.”

Officials have encouraged people to stay inside with windows closed, but this is a region where few have air conditioning because temperatures, historically, rarely topped 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Portland this week broke a record for the most days over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with 30. Seattle broke its record temperature by two degrees on Wednesday, hitting 89 degrees.

“There’s this almost oppressive heaviness in air,” Bumbaco says.

Surrounded by Fire

In one sense, this particular summer is unusual. There are so many fires in so many places, Portland and Seattle are surrounded on three sides by enormous plumes of smoke—moving south from British Columbia, east from the far side of the Cascades and north from California and Southern Oregon. A fire is also burning in the typically rainy Olympic National Forest, between Seattle and the Pacific Ocean. So even when the winds shift, smoke has found its way in.


But 2017 saw 11 straight days of thick smoke in Seattle, Bumbaco says. Smoke also rolled through in 2015, and experts have been warning for years that the source—wildfires—will almost certainly get worse.


“With climate change, we expect to see an increase in the number of acres burned,” says Crystal Raymond, a wildfire expert with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group. “Warmer temperatures and longer periods of time without snow on the ground leaves more chances for live and dead vegetation to dry out. More of the landscape is set up for wildfires more of the year. You still need an ignition source—a lightning strike or humans throwing out a cigarette—but the underlying conditions are that so that when fires start, they’re more likely to spread.”

via Seattle and Portland Air is Now Dirtier Than Most Polluted Cities in Asia

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Air pollution reduces global life expectancy by more than one year

Air pollution shortens human lives by more than a year, according to a new study from a team of leading environmental engineers and public health researchers. Better air quality could lead to a significant extension of lifespans around the world.


Upper panel a: How air pollution shortens human life expectancy around the world. Lower panel b: Gains in life expectancy that could be reached by meeting World Health Organization guidelines for air quality around the world. Credit: Cockrell School of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

This is the first time that data on air pollution and lifespan has been studied together in order to examine the global variations in how they affect overall life expectancy.

The researchers looked at outdoor air pollution from particulate matter (PM) smaller than 2.5 microns. These fine particles can enter deep into the lungs, and breathing PM2.5 is associated with increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, respiratory diseases and cancer. PM2.5 pollution comes from power plants, cars and trucks, fires, agriculture and industrial emissions.

Led by Joshua Apte in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, the team used data from the Global Burden of Disease Study to measure PM2.5 air pollution exposure and its consequences in 185 countries. They then quantified the national impact on life expectancy for each individual country as well as on a global scale.

The findings were published Aug. 22 in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

“The fact that fine particle air pollution is a major global killer is already well known,” said Apte, who is an assistant professor in the Cockrell School’s Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering and in the Dell Medical School’s Department of Population Health. “And we all care about how long we live. Here, we were able to systematically identify how air pollution also substantially shortens lives around the world. What we found is that air pollution has a very large effect on survival — on average about a year globally.”

In the context of other significant phenomena negatively affecting human survival rates, Apte said this is a big number.

“For example, it’s considerably larger than the benefit in survival we might see if we found cures for both lung and breast cancer combined,” he said. “In countries like India and China, the benefit for elderly people of improving air quality would be especially large. For much of Asia, if air pollution were removed as a risk for death, 60-year-olds would have a 15 percent to 20 percent higher chance of living to age 85 or older.”

Apte believes this discovery is especially important for the context it provides.

“A body count saying 90,000 Americans or 1.1 million Indians die per year from air pollution is large but faceless,” he said. “Saying that, on average, a population lives a year less than they would have otherwise — that is something relatable.”

via Air pollution reduces global life expectancy by more than one year — ScienceDaily

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Which Respro® Mask to use for wildfire smoke

Air pollution from burning shrub land and forest fires is made up of carbonaceous particulates in the form of black smoke and resultant chemical compounds from burning sap from the trees.

We recommend the Respro® Ultralight™ Mask with a Cinqro™ Urban filter pack.


The filter fitted in the Respro® Ultralight™ Mask as standard (Cinqro™ Sports filter) is a Hepa-type filter, perfect for sub-micron black smoke particulates and pollen (smaller than PM2.5 and less than 1 micron).

The filter pack supplied with the ‘combo’ kit is the Cinqro™ Urban Filter.  This filter is a combination filter made of an Dynamic Activated Charcoal Cloth (DACC) layer laminated to the Hepa-type particulate layer of the Sports filter. It provides a broader spectrum of screening which would include wood gas and carbonaceous pollution together with filtration from urban vehicle pollution.



The Respro® Ultralight™ Mask is made from air permeable material which is good for facial ventilation, comes in 4 sizes for a comfortable flexible fit and is fitted with the Powa Elite valves for humidity control in the filter.


RTG01 BK_maska antysmogowa Respro TECHNO MASK _01

A more economical solution would be the Respro® Techno™ Mask, as this has a combination filter similar in specification to the Cinqro™ Urban Filter.



All Respro® masks have interchangeable filters and valves to allow you to choose the best option of mask and filter dependent on your needs and build a mask to your own specification mask.

Masks we recommend for Wildland fire pollution:





It is important that a mask fits correctly otherwise air will just pass through the gaps and not function how it is intended. Even if it has the best filter; if it is a poor fit it will reduce its ability to filter out the pollutants.

If you do use our website service, we strongly recommend that you send in your details to confirm your sizing. We ask this so that we can ensure you have the correct size and that the mask will be of benefit to you or those who are using it. It is also important for any sizing issues that may arise so we are able to assess and resolve any problems.


For further information please contact

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