Poor air quality is one of the biggest threats to all of us, causing over 7 million deaths per year and 99% of people breathing air that is not suited for them.
Even though the figures are clear and more and more people are concerned about the air they breathe, many public organizations and businesses are still not taking proactive measures to tackle this challenge and protect their citizens/users.
Here is a quick overview of sectors and players facing the possibility of both contributing to better air quality and unlocking new business opportunities to distinguish themselves from the competition:
Digital health companies have tremendous potential in leveraging customer-specific data to learn more about their users’ behavior and physical performance, but they lack the knowledge of the environment where users operate.
Since 80% of health outcomes have to do with the physical environment, behaviors, and social factors, companies in this space need more data to analyze the causes of their users’ illnesses.
Air pollution is the leading cause and aggravating factor of many respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is responsible for millions of deaths per year. It also causes about 1 in 3 deaths from stroke, chronic respiratory disease and lung cancer as well as 1 in 4 deaths from heart attack.
Ground-level ozone, produced from the interaction of many different pollutants in sunlight, is also a cause of asthma and chronic respiratory illnesses. Additionally, it is also an extremely large contributor to the loss of productivity (in 2019, air pollution cost ~$8.1 trillion to the global GDP).
Accurate data regarding the air people are breathing is heavily necessary and lacking in digital health companies.
By adding street-level air quality data to their own products, digital health companies have the ability to customize their apps and deliver actionable insights based on the user’s surroundings.
The same approach can be applied to fitness companies that are committed to helping users achieve a healthier lifestyle, by e.g. identifying the least polluted routes for outdoor leisure activities.
Companies that are ready to introduce innovative features to protect their users will see a drive-in engagement/loyalty and build a real competitive advantage.
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Around the world, 2.4 billion people are exposed to dangerous levels of household air pollution. Figures from 2020 show that poor indoor air quality was responsible for 3.2 million deaths per year, including over 237.000 deaths of children under the age of 5.
Therefore, it is no surprise a study from the Daily Telegraph revealed that houses with poor air quality are sold for an average of 15% less than their counterparts or that certified green buildings had a 21.4% higher average market sales price per square foot than non-certified buildings.
Additionally, air quality is also an important factor in the workspace. Buildings, where air quality is managed, enable better cognitive functioning by occupants than those with higher levels of indoor pollutants.
Building management companies have the opportunity to tap into a space that is still poorly explored.
An air monitoring system that collects and displays in real-time the quality of the air people are breathing delivers valuable information to promote a suitable environment.
On the residential side, it can push for better living standards. In the workplace, it assures better working conditions that translate into improved productivity and fewer sick leaves.
Moreover, a reliable network of indoor air quality devices is also extremely important to comply with green building regulations and achieve certifications. Building management companies that want to take a step further and showcase the significance of their work, can combine outdoor and indoor data to gather unique insights regarding the performance of the systems they have in place.
One of the best overall indicators of a healthy or unhealthy city is its air quality.
With 92% of the global population living in areas that exceed safe air pollution levels, and with more than half of all cities reporting air quality levels 3.5 times higher than the WHO limits, gathering and understanding air quality data must be a pressing matter for local authorities wishing to protect their citizens.
Urbanization itself is not responsible for the increase in air pollution – unplanned and poorly managed urbanization is.
Many cities across the globe already monitor air quality. However, they do not have street-level data that are needed when planning their next low-emission or car-free zone.
Using hyperlocal air quality information generates data-led, actionable recommendations, such as more accurate planning for public transportation lines, pedestrian-friendly routes, or car-free or low-emission zones in specific areas where a city most needs them.
Since more and more people are concerned about the air they breathe, taking action and showcasing the work related to air quality is a driver for attracting newcomers and boosting the local economy.
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More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels exceeding World Health Organization limits, resulting in millions of deaths per year.
Due to dense population, heavy traffic, and continuous movement, city streets are prone to harmful air quality. It is a difficult challenge to guarantee people are breathing safe air in cities.
However, it is crucial to note that air quality can vary by as much as 800% between and within city streets. This means there are safer zones where pedestrians, cyclists, and passengers can move and breathe healthier air even in the densest cities.
To answer this challenge, smart mobility and location-based companies must have street-level, hyperlocal data.
Adding street-level air quality data to their products will equip companies with the possibility of safeguarding their users from hazardous pollutants and help them achieve a healthier lifestyle by navigating the cleanest routes.
Evidence suggests that air quality is one of the factors most tourists consider when deciding where to travel, especially after the pandemic. As people wish to escape from the stress of daily life and enjoy a pleasant stay, environmental aspects such as air pollution can jeopardize that expectation.
A recent study on global tourism demand revealed that air pollution has a negative impact on tourism flows and that this trend is more noticeable for inbound tourism than for domestic tourism. In fact, a growth of both CO2 and PM2.5 emissions adversely influences the number of international tourist arrivals.
Given that many countries rely on tourism as an important source of revenue, employment, and infrastructure development, air quality poses a matter of concern, which has to be addressed sooner than later. Better air quality can directly increase the likelihood of a destination being picked against similar ones.
Since tourists are increasingly worried about air pollution and its health implications, both local governments and the hospitality sector must prioritize air quality as a key differentiating factor. The state of air quality as well as the efforts put in place towards improving it can substantially affect the image of a destination.
By paying close attention and monitoring air quality, touristic regions and accommodation businesses are sending a clear meaningful message: they care about their visitors’/guests’ health and well-being, and are doing their best for them to feel safe.
Accurate real-time air quality data can help identify the most appropriate solutions should undesirable pollutant levels be detected in certain spaces – such as implementing location-based measures or adjusting ventilation/filtration strategies. Plus, deploying an indoor air quality network can help accommodation businesses obtain relevant green building certifications that can be leveraged as a competitive advantage to attract more guests.
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High levels of CO2 reduce memory, impair concentration and lower decision-making capabilities in students, negatively affecting their academic performance and their health.
Air pollution increases sick leave rates as it contributes to the spread of airborne viruses and worsens existing respiratory conditions like asthma and allergies. As a matter of fact, a 1,000 parts per million (ppm) increase above ambient levels of CO2 has been linked to a 10-20% increase in days away from school.
Besides budget constraints, lack of awareness has been preventing real change regarding air quality monitoring in schools. However, in the aftermath of the pandemic, the paradigm has started to shift. Since students spend most of the weekdays in a classroom setting, providing a safe learning and teaching environment must be a priority for schools.
By deploying a monitoring system within their premises and gathering relevant real-time insights, schools can assess air quality, identify where improvements are needed (heating, ventilation, purification, etc.), and take the right actions to tackle specific pollution sources.
Not only does a decrease in the risk of exposure to air pollution reduce airborne diseases transmission, as well as respiratory complications related to asthma and allergies, but it has also been associated with faster and more accurate student responses for choice reaction, color vigilance, picture memory and word recognition.
Poor air quality compromises workers’ health and costs the global economy $225 billion in lost labor income. In the UK alone, it is responsible for 3 million sick days annually.
The manufacturing and logistics workers are the most vulnerable to dangerous levels of dust and toxic particles. Evidence shows that constant exposure to air pollution can exacerbate health conditions, leading to increased presenteeism and absenteeism, and, ultimately, to reduced life expectancy.
There is an undeniable link between human health and the economy’s resilience, as the pandemic has so noticeably highlighted. Economic prosperity is highly dependent on a healthy workforce.
According to a modeling framework developed by Public Health England, 1 µg/m3 reduction in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) could prevent around 50,900 cases of coronary heart disease, 16,500 strokes, 9,300 cases of asthma and 4,200 lung cancers over an 18-year period.
Implementing an air quality monitoring system in factories to drive measures aimed at minimizing pollutant concentration risks has the potential to contribute to workers’ well-being and, at the same time, bring productivity gains.
Less air pollution means fewer sickness absences, fewer days in which employees work when ill and, more importantly, fewer premature deaths.
A breathable workplace that complies with regulatory limits translates into better health and more productive days per year, increasing the capacity of the business to generate profit and positively impacting the workers’ earnings.
Considering that people spend over 90% of their time indoors, HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) systems play an increasingly important role in almost every building.
However, such systems are highly demanding on energy and can come off as very expensive: a typical HVAC system accounts for approximately 40% of total building consumption.
In order to strike a balance between increasing sustainability/efficiency concerns and comfort/air filtration purposes, real-time insights on certain ambient parameters are much needed.
Data from air quality monitoring devices strategically deployed indoors and/or outdoors can be used to optimize HVAC systems, powering solutions capable of automatically adjusting ventilation and air filtration rates based on a set of measurements, resulting in energy savings while ensuring a healthy environment.
For example, depending on the level of CO2 measured by the air quality monitoring device, the HVAC system can estimate occupancy and manage the amount of air that has to be supplied to the space; or depending on the level of particulate matter measured by the air quality monitoring device, the HVAC system can assess the effectiveness of air filters in removing pollutants.
By incorporating innovative data-powered self-regulating features into their products, HVAC companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and provide added value to customers.
Air pollution is considered an emerging risk factor for insurance companies. Due to its multilayered health, economic and environmental implications, air pollution is becoming one of the most determining elements when analyzing the risks of insuring people/assets and setting insurance cover prices.
Studies show that air pollution significantly increases the likelihood of household insurance purchases and that health insurance is more susceptible to air pollution than life insurance and other types of insurance, as air pollution can lead to severe respiratory, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
A research conducted in the US found that in states where good air quality days are more frequent, average health insurance costs are 9% lower.
However, insurance companies are yet to leverage the full potential of air quality monitoring systems to adjust their product offer, particularly in highly polluted areas.
A hyperlocal network of ground-based outdoor sensors can improve the spatial and temporal resolution of air quality measurements, providing detailed data on location-based air pollution exposure levels.
With such insights, insurance companies can enhance risk modeling and damage prevention for different types of insurance products – health, life and household insurances.
By analyzing air quality data, it might even prove worthwhile for insurance companies to promote targeted clean air initiatives in neighborhoods where they have a wide portfolio of clients, instead of facing higher air pollution-related costs later on.
PlanetWatch is reinventing air quality monitoring, replacing unreliable traditional networks with cutting-edge technology and unprecedented scalability.
Check out some of our projects and learn more about our hyperlocal air quality data network or book a free demo through the form below.
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