Artistic and Political Responses to Air Pollution Research

Posted on 09.02.2016

New research published by Imperial College London suggests that high levels of air pollution continue to be harmful even several years after exposure to poisonous fumes. According to an article by Damian Carrington published today, “36,800 people exposed to the highest levels of air pollution had a 14% greater risk of dying than those exposed to the lowest levels of air pollution.”

This is very alarming, but like many other environmental issues, it’s difficult to engage with air pollution: it’s invisible to the naked eye, and the effects are long term rather than instantaneous. Even though the UK government has been forced by the supreme court to come up with an action plan to deal with this issue, the reductions in pollution levels won’t happen until 2025 in London. In the meantime, it’s important to continue to put focus on the serious health issue.

As we’ve mentioned before, Kasia Molga’s Human Sensor makes this issue visible through art, making it easer to comprehend and engage with on an emotional level. In Human Sensor, data from measurements of pollution levels are broadcast through wearable devices. At ECOS in Manchester in May 2016, performers will cycle through the city at rush hour, making the changing pollution levels in the city visible through their clothing.

This kind of visibility helps more direct political approaches, such as Air Pollution London’s campaign to challenge London Mayoral candidates on their environmental policies and put pressure on them to make tackling air pollution in London a priority. You can read their Clean Air Manifesto here.

Continue the conversation on twitter @invisible_dust

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