HomeNewsAir pollution tweets from US embassies improved air high quality in cities

Air pollution tweets from US embassies improved air high quality in cities


Satellite tv for pc knowledge from 466 cities in low and middle-income nations reveals that monitoring by US embassies led to raised air high quality in contrast with cities with out public knowledge


24 October 2022

The US embassy in Beijing started tweeting air air pollution readings in 2008

Zihao Chen/Getty Photographs

US embassies’ tweets displaying real-time air high quality knowledge resulted in decrease ranges of air air pollution in cities around the globe.

In 2008, the US embassy in Beijing put in an air high quality monitor and started tweeting hourly readings. By 2020, greater than 50 US embassies in 37 different nations had adopted, creating a big knowledge set that researchers might use to evaluate the influence of disseminating real-time air pollution knowledge.

Akshaya Jha at Carnegie Mellon College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and his colleagues analysed satellite tv for pc knowledge on air air pollution in 466 cities in 136 low and middle-income nations, together with 50 cities the place US embassies put in screens.

They centered on air pollution particles with a diameter of two.5 microns or much less, often known as PM2.5. These particles are notably dangerous as a result of they penetrate the lung barrier and enter the bloodstream, contributing to respiratory and cardiovascular situations similar to coronary heart illness and lung most cancers.

In 2016, it was estimated that outside air air pollution induced 4.2 million untimely deaths worldwide per 12 months, however solely 32 per cent nations within the examine pattern had any type of air high quality monitoring. Fewer nations nonetheless made that knowledge public.

The examine discovered that cities the place US embassies tweeted air contamination knowledge noticed the degrees of PM 2.5 drop by a mean of two to 4 micrograms per cubic metre in contrast with people who didn’t.

The drop is small relative to the excessive ranges of air pollution within the most-contaminated cities – for instance, in New Delhi, the common PM 2.5 degree for 2020 was 89 micrograms per cubic metre of air. Nonetheless, the researchers estimate this may have decreased the variety of untimely deaths attributable to air pollution every year by a median of 303 in every metropolis.

Jha and his colleagues suspect that making the information accessible made folks conscious of low air high quality and ramped up public stress to deal with it by way of coverage change.

The workforce recorded a gentle improve within the variety of Google searches the place the screens had been put in and air pollution ranges subsequently dropped. “As soon as the knowledge is on the market, it could result in extra public press and even worldwide stress,” says Jha.

Varied coverage initiatives might have improved air high quality, similar to proscribing the usage of vehicles or transferring industrial manufacturing additional away from densely populated cities.

The info might additionally give members of native and federal governments the proof they should foyer for greener insurance policies whereas offering journalists with authoritative findings they will use in media protection.

The examine means that publishing info on well being dangers can have a huge impact, says Jha. “The overarching message of the paper is that info alone might help fairly a bit greater than was beforehand anticipated. It speaks to creating air air pollution salient to native populations and getting the opposed well being results of air pollution on folks’s minds.”

“Participating with, and involving the general public in, dialogue on the well being impacts of air air pollution is vital to constructing stress and momentum for authorities to behave on the difficulty, as demonstrated on this new examine,” says Frank Kelly at Imperial School London.

Journal reference: PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2201092119

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