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Temperature increase, pollution growth and multiplication of health hazards

In summer, temperatures are not the only ones that rise, but the levels of air pollution accompany them. At this moment, after the complaint of the European Commission for the violation of the air quality directive, it is important to reflect on this problem that affects us all, take measures to protect ourselves and provide “our grain of sand” to contribute to the improvement of the situation.

Why air pollution gets worse in summer?

These last weeks there has been much talk about the air quality of Madrid, Barcelona and the Vallès-Baix Llobregat area and the measures implemented from Europe in order to get our attention and look for options to improve the situation.

It has been commented that the European Commission’s complaint coincides with the decision of the mayor of Madrid to reverse the low emission zone of “Madrid Central”, but it can also really be closely related to summer and rising temperatures.

Only in this month of July:

  • Barcelona has published 4 preventive warnings of environmental pollution episodes, suffering 1 of the 2 that have occurred over this year.
  • Madrid has suffered the only 2 episodes of ozone pollution throughout 2019.

Do you think that’s coincidence? Well, the rise in temperatures is most often accompanied by increased levels of pollution by tropospheric ozone, also known as “bad ozone“.

This is mainly due to the so-called precursor gases: volatile organic compounds (VOCs), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). These pollutant gases produced by the wide variety of emissions we make daily to the atmosphere, react with the sun and temperature to generate smog and airborne particles. As you have already deduced, these photochemical reactions occur more easily in summer, thus causing the typical “gray cloud” that can be observed over certain territories on days with intermediate levels of contamination.

How to protect yourself and how to solve the problem?

Air pollution affects us all, but especially the so-called sensitive groups: children, elderly, people with respiratory problems or pregnant women. It causes a wide variety of discomforts and/or diseases, from a simple irritation of the eyes and nose to asthma, reproductive problems or heart attacks, among many others.

Knowing this, ask yourself if you really want the people you love and you to continue “playing heads or tails” with atmospheric pollution. Some recommendations to protect you are:

  • On days with pollution episodes avoid going outside and opening the windows of the house, since air pollution does not occur only outside.
    • If you want to make sure that the air you breathe at home is free of contaminants, you can always buy an air purifier.
  • Avoid the streets with more traffic as it’s where you usually find the highest levels of pollution.
  • Wear a mask to protect against pollution on days of environmental events or if you are usually very close to the emitting sources of particles and polluting gases, such as a biker in a traffic jam.
  • Avoid doing outdoor sports in cities, and if you try to practice it in quiet areas or as close to nature as possible.

Although, it is of no use to protect yourself and don’t act to solve the problem, if not it would get even bigger and we will reach a point where all protection won’t be enough. Right now, it is in our hands to provide the grain of sand to find a solution, in actions such as:

  • Change driving habits:
    • Drive less to reduce emissions.
    • Carry out maintenance of the car so that it works correctly.
    • Fill with fuel in cold temperatures.
    • Buy a hybrid or electric vehicle.
  • Change in consumption habits:
    • Avoid products with high VOC content, not only for the prevention of smog, but also to have a good indoor air quality.
    • Avoid using garden equipment that runs on gas.
    • Buy local products to reduce transport emissions.
    • Be energy efficient at home.
  • Take sides:
    • Do not support organizations that have bad environmental practices.
    • Promote this way of thinking and what is being done to solve the problem, with family and close friends or even in social networks.
    • Get in touch with local politicians and business leaders.

Discover how to protect yourself!

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Plastic Oceans

Plastics in the sea

Greenpeace estimates that 30 million cans and plastic bottles are abandoned every day just in Spain. Only with this data we already have a notion of the magnitude of the problem that today’s society must face. In this post we will analyze it and see how we can help to recover the oceans while protecting ourselves from air pollution.

The human being is (badly) accustomed to consuming an indecent amount of plastics, and the companies that decide to wrap everything in plastic are the first culprits. Does anyone believe that many of these companies are responsible for their actions?

Well, many of these plastics end up in the hands of consumers, and only part of them recycle. In fact, according to Greenpeace, only 9% of plastics are recycled, 12% are incinerated and the remaining 79% ends up in landfills or in the environment!

The management of plastics is very bad worldwide, and it hurts to know that although we recycle at home, those same plastics may end up at sea. Dishes, glasses, bottles, bags and others harm the environment both in its manufacture and in its subsequent management. Unfortunately, there are many images of animals damaged or even killed due to plastic waste.

A common mistake would be to think that these plastics remain on the surface. The reality is that only 15% of plastics do so, and that plastics have been found at 10,000 meters deep.

We hope that these figures scare you, it is our main objective, since there are even some phenomena called plastic “soups”: five macro-concentrations of plastic in the seas of the world. Spooky!

How do we end this nightmare?

We are sorry but recycling is not the solution, neither it is recycled correctly nor the companies in charge make a good management of recycled waste. In fact, what is done to avoid responsibilities is to take it to another country so they will have to deal with the problem. Malaysia recently returned 3,000 tons of plastic to its countries of origin, including Spain.

To stop this circle, consumers have to stand up and take measures to show companies that plastics can be decisive when not buying a product. Here are some lines of action that you can put into practice in your day to day:

  • Use biodegradable products (for example bags), since these degrade completely between 90 and 120 days, and instead the plastics do between 400 and 1,400 years.
  • Use and order in restaurants and bars steel or glass bottles, as these can be reused.
  • Never order drinking straws, since most end up at sea.
  • When shopping, take home bags. Now, recyclables are very fashionable.
  • Avoid cosmetic products that contain plastic microspheres, since they end up in the drain, then at sea, later they are fish food and finally we eat them ourselves.
  • Sign up for plastic pickups on the beaches. Whatever city you are, surely there is an organization or group of people organizing events or volunteers of this type in the area.
  • At the supermarket, take fruits and vegetables without bags, sticking the sticker on them directly.

The relation with air pollution

Although both types of pollution affect us directly or indirectly, who is the most affected is the planet. But, how much are they related to each other?

Both, the production processes of these plastics and the burning of that 12% of their waste contribute to air pollution. It is estimated that this 2019 the plastic generates greenhouse gases in the equivalent of 850 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

AirGO committed to the oceans

The AirGO team is not only people committed to air pollution, one of our main objectives is to fulfill our corporate social responsibility, with the environment and the planet earth in general. Our greatest desire is to leave a cleaner and better world for those who come behind!

According to the newspaper El Mundo, “1 kg of plastic is fished for every 5 kg of fish. If no measures are taken by 2030, the ratio will be one to one”.

Many of these fishermen are already part of the SEAQUAL Friends project, which through collaboration between agents manages to take advantage of all this plastic waste trapped in the fishermen’s nets so that they can be treated and converted into other products. In our case, recycled plastic is used to make high quality polyester yarn with which the magnificent fabric we use is produced.

That is why we are pleased to announce that by buying one of our Brisa masks you will be helping to clean our oceans. Currently this model is the only one made with recycled plastic of the seabed, and although it is difficult to imagine the fabric that results is very pleasant to the touch.

We hope in the near future to be able to offer a greater range of products manufactured with this fabric technology, in addition to committing to the minimization of emissions and the use of more sustainable materials in the other elements of the product.