Environmental pollution in cities is a public health problem and is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the most important global priorities.
Recently in the European Heart Journal, a German study was published, in which the researchers stated that environmental pollution caused 800,000 deaths per year and warned of the impact of this risk factor on big cities, since the numbers obtained were much higher to the ones estimated until then.
The BREATHE study, led by Jordi Sunyer, the same principal investigator of the BiSC project, highlighted the importance of air quality and in his conclusions stated that: “children in highly-contaminated schools had less cognitive development than children from the less-contaminated schools”.
In cities, traffic is one of the main sources of environmental pollution. To know how it affects to the BiSC volunteers, it is essential the follow-up week that our field workers carry out since from this we study their surroundings and in which environments they move. That’s why the collaboration of our volunteers is essential for the realization of the project in the face of these alarming data.
To carry it out, the volunteers carry a backpack 48 hours that we could say that simulates our lungs. This allows us to identify to which particles they are exposed in their day to day life. Additionally, for a week they also carry a personal tube that allows us to measure the amount of nitrogen dioxide they are exposed to. This gas is produced from the combustion of the car and is harmful to human health. To complement the information on the environment they also carry a cell phone for a week that is used as a GPS and allows us to know their usual routes. They also carry a watch that allows us to collect information about their physical activity and their sleep quality.
Apart from that, at the home of the volunteer, we install contamination meters inside and outside the house, a device that measures the temperature and humidity that exists in the house, and on the facade, we also install a sound level meter to know the acoustic pollution they receive from outside.
The results of the data we obtain during this week are important in order to offer an accurate picture of the pollution to which we are exposed to in our city every day.
This article has been written by Eduard Roso, field worker of the BiSC project.