Declaring war on air pollution

Posted on 20.07.2016

Following a study conducted in partnership with the Blacksmith Institute, Green Cross Switzerland has determined the most dangerous pollution problems threatening the environment. The top ten list of the most deadliest factors includes: groundwater contamination, industrial mining activities, metals smelters and processing, radioactive waste and uranium mines, untreated sewage, used lead acid battery recycling, contaminated surface water, artisanal gold mining, indoor air pollution and, ça va sans dire, urban air quality.

According to the World Health Organisation, an estimate of 7 million premature deaths are caused annually by air pollution, with 4,000 casualties a day in China alone (two of the world’s most polluted cities according to Time Magazine, Linfen and Tianying, are in China). Despite the gloomy figures though, there is still hope: many are in fact the cities that have declared war on pollution. Calgary, Canada (see image above), for example is high on the list of the world’s cleanest cities, even though there is a large oil and gas industry in the area. Situated between Rocky Mountains and Prairies, Calgary boasts a well-planned out, grid-like structure that reduces traffic congestion; it also features light rail transportation and transfer stations that sort through garbage and take out biodegradable and recyclable materials.

The largest city in Minnesota, USA (see image above), Minneapolis enjoys an enviable ranking too. The first city in North America to have banned smoking in public areas, Minneapolis promotes bike riding and has several cycle paths designed to facilitate commuting to and from work. With a national life expectancy of 83.7 years, it doesn’t surprise anyone that Japan also made the list. The capital of the Hyogo prefecture, Kobe is in fact one of the greenest cities in the world: with a population around 1.5 million, the city stands out due to its galloping economy, infrastructures, recycling and waste management.

Here at Invisible Dust we take the quality of the air we breathe very seriously; our latest project, Human Sensor, a series of performances to be held in Manchester between 23rd – 29th July, combines contemporary art and science to make the invisible pollutants that put our health at risk visible.

Born out of the collaboration between media artist Kasia Molga and Professor Frank Kelly from King’s College London, Human Sensor will feed back a dramatic picture of the city’s air pollution hot spots and its effects upon human body to live screens; find a complete list of the performances and related talks and workshops here. And don’t forget to let us know what you do to make your city greener and cleaner using the hashtag #thehumansensor.

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