Guide to the ‘Clean Air in Cities’ app
Air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health risk, killing an estimated 7 million people each year.
The Clean Air in Cities App was created by Clean Air in London to highlight the health impact of long-term exposure to human-made particle air pollution which is HIGH for many people in cities.
We wanted to address the problem created by Defra misleading people by highlighting only ‘LOW air pollution’ based on ‘Daily ALERT bandings’ for about 330 of 365 days per year. Instead, the App highlights the health impact of long-term exposure to human-made particle air pollution which is MODERATE or HIGH for many people in cities. See:
The Clean Air in Cities App reports the health impact of long-term exposure to dangerous airborne particles (PM2.5) for the population in local areas, regions and England as a whole i.e. annual mean. The App estimates the number of deaths attributable to air pollution on a pro rata, calendar year-to-date, basis and the time to the next attributable death as well as displaying the percentage of total deaths attributable to air pollution. It does not estimate or display the actual deaths from air pollution or the risk for an individual. Users can also see estimates for total population-weighted exposure to annual average concentrations of PM2.5 in different local areas and/or regions relative to the World Health Organisation guideline and England as a whole.
The Clean Air in Cities App is available for iPhones, iPads and Android devices and can be downloaded from the appropriate store:
Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, said:
“Air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health risk, killing an estimated 7 million people each year.
“We therefore produced the Clean Air in Cities App to highlight this risk and counter the impression created by successive governments that air pollution ‘LOW air pollution’ based on ‘Daily ALERT bandings’ for about 330 of 365 days per year. These daily alert levels were set to warn of health risks during major air pollution episodes not day to day exposure to air pollution.
“Instead, we highlight the health impact of long-term exposure to human-made particle air pollution (annual mean PM2.5) which is MODERATE or HIGH for many people in cities relative to the World Health Organisation guideline.
“We hope people will find the App valuable and share the data with others.”
Top 20 tips for using the ‘Clean Air in Cities’ App
1. The App is available free for iPhone, iPad and Android devices and can be downloaded from the appropriate store:
2. The App was updated in 2020 for: the latest published data from Defra and Public Health England (2018); iOS 13 and Android 5 and up; bug fixes; performance enhancements; and the addition of news alerts. Don’t forget to check for app version updates.
3. The Clean Air in Cities App was designed to address the misleading impression created by Defra highlighting only ‘LOW air pollution’ based on ‘Daily ALERT bandings’ for about 330 of 365 days per year. Instead, we highlight the health impact of long-term exposure to human-made particle air pollution which is MODERATE or HIGH for many people in cities. See:
4. The App reports the percentage and number of deaths attributable to human-made fine particle air pollution (PM2.5) so far this year. It also uses the Clean Air in Cities Index® (also known as the Birkett Index®) to show total PM2.5 levels relative to the World Health Organisation’s guideline for human exposure to PM2.5. By selecting ‘Always’ under ‘Show Previews’ for the ‘Clean Air in Cities app’ in ‘Notifications’ on ioS devices the notifications will appear in full on the face of the device to save you looking for it.
5. The App lets you share the latest estimate of deaths attributable to fine particle air pollution so far this year for any local authority or region in England or England as a whole e.g. by Email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Messaging, Twitter and WhatsApp.
6. The ‘+ ALL REGIONS’ button lets you add the nine regions in England; ‘+ ALL LOCAL AREAS’ adds all 150 local areas in England; and ‘+ ALL REGIONAL AREAS’ adds all areas in a region. These can be reset in settings.
7. The ‘+’ sign lets you search manually for local areas and regions and add them. Or let location services find your local area and others within your region. Please note that the search box will not suggest areas if they have already been selected e.g. through batch loading.
8. The ‘Edit’ button in the App allows you to re-order areas. We like to list all regions and all local areas in our region (in alphabetical order). Tip 6 shows how to do it automatically!
9. Why not add the nine regions including yours and then all your region’s local areas?
- East Midlands
- East of England
- North East
- North West
- South East
- South West
- West Midlands
- Yorkshire and Humber
10. The App shows the percentage (%) of total deaths attributable to human-made particle air pollution (PM2.5) in every local authority and region in England.
11. The App shows population-weighted total concentrations of human-made fine particle air pollution (PM2.5) for any local area and region in England and England as a whole compared to the WHO guideline.
12. The App’s clock shows the proportion of time between deaths attributable to particle air pollution (PM2.5), actual time and flashes 15 seconds before the next statistical ‘death’.
13. The App could include Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (or other countries) if the relevant government would provide resources and the population-weighted PM5, attributable fraction and total deaths for it.
14. Ask politicians whether they use the App and know the latest estimate of deaths attributable to PM2.5 so far this year in their area
15. The ‘Website’, ‘News’ and ‘Settings’ buttons let you find out more about Clean Air in London’s work and the ‘Clean Air in Cities’ App. They include ‘Reset’ (or ‘Home’) and ‘Refresh’ buttons for their content.
16. The ‘News’ button lets you see selected ‘News alerts’ about air pollution episodes, blog posts and media stories posted by ‘Clean Air in London’. For examples, please see: https://cleanair.london/news-alerts/.
17. The App may send you useful notifications e.g. when the number of deaths attributable to particle air pollution in one of your areas reaches a significant milestone e.g. 5, 100 or 1,000 depending on the size of the area.
18. The App may send you occasional notifications (such as news or alerts about air pollution episodes) or links to new posts on Clean Air in London’s website.
19. The ‘Settings’ button lets you amend notifications, learn about the App, read our privacy statement and terms and conditions and reset all regions and areas.
20. Thank you for reading these tips. Please reply to one on Twitter with your own tips for improving our App or contact us at About https://cleanair.london/about/.
2. Background to the Clean Air in Cities Index®
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has ‘guidelines’ for human exposure to different forms of air pollution. They chose deliberately not to call them standards, limits or recommendations because there is known ‘safe’ level for exposure to fine particle air pollution (PM2.5).
Further, while concentrations for short-term exposure to PM2.5 have been colour-coded in bands for many years, Clean Air in London was the first, to our knowledge, to propose a colour-coded banding for long-term exposure to PM2.5.
Clean Air in London will keep its colour bandings under review because scientists have confirmed health effects of air pollution at lower concentrations of PM2.5. This evidence may lead to the WHO reducing its guidelines when they are published in 2021.
The ‘Clean Air in Cities Index’ is also trademarked as the Birkett Index. This was done to maintain high standards for its use.
Clean Air in London®, Clean Air in Cities Index® and Birkett Index® are registered trademarks of Clean Air in London:
3. Clean Air in London articles about the health impacts of air pollution
For more details on the ‘Clean Air in Cities Index’ and the short and long-term health impacts of air pollution:
4. Background to the health impacts
Public Health England report titled ‘Estimating Local Mortality Burdens association with Particulate Air Pollution’ (April
Defra publishes the anthropogenic (human-made), non-anthropogenic (e.g. volcanic dust and sea salt) and total population-weighted concentrations of PM2.5. Non-anthropogenic levels are the residual after Defra’s modelling has identified individual sources of PM2.5. In recent years for England, it has been:
0.44 mg/m3 in 2018 (of 9.52 mg/m3 total)
0.51 mg/m3 in 2017 (of 9.41 mg/m3 total)
0.54 mg/m3 in 2016 (of 9.99 mg/m3 total)
1.12 mg/m3 in 2015 (of 9.42 mg/m3 total)
2.11 mg/m3 in 2014 (of 11.17 mg/m3 total)
2.13 mg/m3 in 2013 (of 11.52 mg/m3 total)
2.11 mg/m3 in 2012 (of 11.11 mg/m3 in total)
2.64 mg/m3 in 2011 (of 12.09 mg/m3 total)
5. Annual updates
Updates to the App are usually released annually after Defra, Public Health England and the Office of National Statistics update their annual data. This new data includes:
1. Defra data for population-weighted annual mean PM5 (scroll down towards foot of webpage):
2. Public Health Indicator ‘D01 – Fraction of mortality attributable to particulate air pollution’:
The local area and regional data can be exported as a CSV file.
3. Office for National Statistics – Deaths registered by area of usual residence, UK:
4. Add the ONS’s City of London deaths (e.g. 38 in 2020) to Hackney’s total since Defra lumps the two areas together.
5. Update the master table sorted in region and then alphabetical order.
6. Check the ‘About’ (e.g. new year e.g. 2020), ‘Terms and conditions’ and ‘Privacy’ pages.
7. Check links and webpages used by the App and legalise e.g. Terms and conditions and Privacy.
8. Consider updating some health text e.g. latest London or national estimates of deaths. Explain emissions, concentrations, exposures, impacts and outcomes. Also rankings?
9. Update App link on Facebook.
10. Test the Apple and Android versions before release.
6. Other useful resources
Updated 18 September 2020