Nissan data reveals spike in public awareness over air pollution

Electric vehicle (EV) producer Nissan has revealed that UK internet searches relating to air pollution have increased by 750% in the last ten years, in the same week that that the Mayor of London's air quality alerts were introduced at transport hotspots across the capital.

According to Nissan, the popularity of search terms such as “best air purifier” and “air quality index” climbed by a factor of 750% from August 2006 to August 2016 while the phrase “air pollution facts” rose 350% during the same period. The interest for “best air purifier” saw a 10-year spike in June 2016, the Japanese car manufacturer claims.

As the global air quality crisis intensifies, with World Health Organisation (WHO) recently declaring that more than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits, Nissan believes the data demonstrates a rising sense of the relationship between air quality and health among residents of Europe’s capital cities.

“For so long now, air pollution has been seen as a problem that affects people on the other side of the world,” Nissan Europe head of EVs Gareth Dunsmore said.

“This is a flawed perception because air pollution is impacting people and cities right here in Europe. Everyone has a role to play, ourselves included, but by investing in zero emission technologies and putting a stake in the ground about how we can help people live healthier, smarter, greener lives, we hope it’s a step in the right direction.”

Air quality alerts

The research findings arrive a day after air quality alerts – announced by Sadiq Khan earlier this month – went on display at bus stops, Tube stations and road-sides across London to notify residents during the worst doses of air pollution.

Forming part of a comprehensive air pollution incident plan, 2,500 alerts have been placed alongside bus countdown signs and river pier signs across the capital. A further 140 road-side dot matrix message signs will appear on the busiest roads into London, with instructions included to switch of engines while idle. Electronic updates will also be placed at the entrances to all of London’s 270 Underground stations.

Speaking at the launch of the alert system earlier this month, the Mayor of London said: “Unlike my predecessor, I believe that Londoners have a right to know about the quality of the air that they breathe. These new alerts will allow them to take precautions and help them plan ahead to avoid the worst instances of air pollution.”

The alerts will use a three-day ahead forecast about air pollution levels provided by free public service airTEXT. The service will provide information and guidance such as advising people to walk, cycle or use public transport and encourage asthmas sufferers and other vulnerable groups that they may need to increase usage of their reliever inhaler.

“I am doing everything within my power as Mayor to put the health of Londoners first,” Khan continued. “I hope that these alerts will become less and less frequent as we take steps to make our already great city a cleaner place to live, work and study in.”

Khan the centurion

The introduction of air quality alerts reflects Sadiq Khan’s commitment to tackle London’s toxic air levels during the first 100 days of his Mayoral tenure.

Earlier this month, Khan finished a consultation on a comprehensive package of measures to clean up the capitals filthy air, with 79% of nearly 15,000 respondents stating they wished to receive information when air pollution is high so that they can take action to protect their health.

Last week, Khan confirmed plans to roll out the first batch of low-emission bus zones along the capital’s most polluted transport routes.

The Mayor recently applied for his own junior electricity supply licence as a personal contribution towards his plans to help London achieve the target of becoming a zero-carbon emission zone by 2050.

George Ogleby

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