By the warm smog of an open fire

By the warm smog of an open fire

The only thing that soothes Brits in winter is the warm glow of an open fire. According to some, the decreased electricity bills also wager in the equation. The other cost of wood-burning has become rather apparent at the end of January, however, when London's usual grey turned a murky yellow. A spokesperson from King's College has confirmed burning wood was the largest contributor to air pollution.

The exact consistency of pollutants or the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the air measured an unhealthy 197 - a number that would be considered unhealthy even by Beijingers who are used to smog. In fact, Beijing on that particular day read 190.

“Today the shameful state of London’s toxic air has meant that I am forced to trigger the first ‘very high’ air pollution alert under my new comprehensive alert system,” said the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Airtext, which measures London's air quality defines 'very high' as the 10th and highest of its pollution bands. Airtext advises to "reduce physical exertion, particularly outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as cough or sore throat."

Please see our previous blog on ways to measure air pollution here.

So what can I do?!

First thing first, around 175,000 new wood-burning stoves are being added every year so the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. There are two things to be done about this.

The first one is to monitor more precisely. Airvisual provides a comprehensive list of pollutants that are in the air you breathe. This means that you're able to discern between AQI 197 and 250 and make choices accordingly. This lack of precision is a limiting aspect of using a 0-10 scale.

The second is a point we Brits can take pride in. Rain hasn't stopped us from cycling, walking or traveling in any way that we want. Neither should pollution. Taken as a weather phenomenon then, we should learn to cope accordingly and incorporate measures into our daily lives. Here's where Cambridge Mask comes in. Come rain or shine, London grey or murky yellow, check air quality as you would weather ( and soldier on (British Military Technology included)!

Stay healthy