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  • Writer's pictureRosa Aragon

Facts you don't want to hear about air quality & how to improve the air we breathe.

Air is all around us and we are breathing it all times, even without being an expert on it we can easily understand when the air is fresh or not.


For example, when we go downstairs to take the tube, we can feel the thickness of the air, its smell, sometimes is even possible to see particles in the distance. In general is difficult to see or to measure the air quality, but we can feel it! Is possible to feel the smoke when we are behind a bus or a track on city roads. When I was living in London I used to get sick very often in winter when I was breathing cold air I could feel like small particles getting inside my nostrils, I thought it was due to the low temperatures. One winter I went to Copenhagen, it was freezing cold in January. We were cycling all day, I was sure I will feel pain in my nostrils and get sick, but no, nothing happened, I guess the air was clean. In Copenhagen there the people is rare to see people on cars, the streets are quiet and full of cyclist.I was sure I will feel pain in my nostrils and get sick, but no, nothing happened, I guess the air was clean.

Don't you feel, when you go to the mountains like taking a big breath, a big breath of fresh air.It is interesting to see how our body, without knowing the physics behind it sometimes encourage us to give a big breath or to almost hold it. There must be something in ourselves programmed to do this.

Why don’t we develop an environment where we can always be surrounded by fresh air?

Specially considering when big organizations like the WHO claim that: air pollution is a major environmental risk to health, ensuring that by reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory diseases including asthma.

Don't panic there are many things we can do to improve the air quality.

Cleaner transport and energy efficient housing are two very important fields to fight against pollution.


We need to use cleaner ways of commuting. From encouraging the healthier ones like walking and cycling, not only keeps you fit but also does not pollute the environment and when moving long distances prioritising public transport over private vehicles.

What about houses?

If we consider that our homes use about 25% of the final energy consumed in Europe, making energy efficient houses will make an important contribution to reduce pollution in the air. Energy efficient homes not only use less energy but also have air quality systems. Rather than relying on manual ventilation, they are more efficient by introducing mechanical ventilation systems, filtering the polluted air before it comes into the building. To Know more about energy efficient homes, look at my entry about passive houses.

How about filling the streets with clean air?

At larger scale, one very good example of improved air quality in London is an urban intervention in Edware road. What it was a simple wall has now become a beautiful

vertical garden, but not only that, Biotecture, the company behind this project, has carefully selected the plants to clean the air of the roads with heavy traffic nearby. I could not believe how the air changes when you approach this green spot. If you are nearby I recommend you going there, feel it and breath it!Reducing air pollution means better health for the population, but also reduces emissions of CO2 and other climate pollutants, so we are contributing to the mitigation of climate change.

Well, if is good for us and is good for the environment: Let´s do it!

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