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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is calling on city authorities to clean up the air in Europe and meet the WHO’s air quality guidelines as part of the “Unmask my City” campaign (1). Unmask My City is a global initiative by doctors, nurses, public health practitioners, and allied healthcare professionals dedicated to improving air quality and reducing emissions in our cities. This will save millions of lives, improve health outcomes for billions of people, and make a huge contribution to greenhouse gas reductions needed to keep the world safe from climate change crises (2).

HEAL is a co-initiator of Unmask my city and leads the campaign in Europe.

Together with local doctors, concerned patients and health experts, HEAL has launched Unmask my city initiatives in Adana, Belgrade, Canakkale, Hatay, Istanbul, Sofia, Tuzla and Warsaw (3). Further cities are expected to join in the next months.

In its efforts for clean air, HEAL is supported in Europe by the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies (AIM), European Respiratory Society (ERS), European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA), European Lung Foundation (ELF), and the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG).

Weronika Piestrzyńska, HEAL Poland Health and Energy Programme Manager, monitoring air quality using a special ‘light mask’ in Poland. Here the mask glows yellow, showing air pollution levels are roughly twice World Health Organization limits. Copyright: Global Call for Climate Action / Greg McNevin

The Unmask my city initiative is part of a growing movement of citizens and individuals measuring air quality and calling for clean air in their communities.
A key feature of the campaign is the creation of visual communication materials showing people in different cities using a ‘light mask,’ a face mask equipped with LED indicators to monitor air quality. When air quality is good and PM2.5 levels are low, the mask lights up green; when air quality is bad and levels are high, the mask turns red. For each of the Unmask city, health professionals also bring forward evidence on the local pollution sources and solutions best suited to create positive change and improve air quality.

Air pollution in Europe is responsible for more than 400,000 early deaths in Europe every year. (5) Three quarters of the European Union’s population lives in urban areas and this percentage will increase to 80% by 2020.

 

 

Further information: 

1. Unmask My City, www.unmaskmycity.org

The Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) and its partners Health Care Without Harm, the Health and Environment Alliance, the US Climate and Health Alliance and the UK Health Alliance for Climate Change are connecting with local health partners and their communities to promote practical solutions and create tangible city level policy changes that drive a clear, downward global trend in urban air pollution by 2030. This will result in reductions in deaths, illnesses, and greenhouse gas emissions.

By coming together to advocate for an overhaul of transport and energy systems in our cities, we can help achieve a safe climate and improve public health, build stronger economies, and enhance quality of life in ways that benefit everyone

Videos and shareable social media cardsfrom the campaign are available from the campaign website.

2. World Health Organization, Fact Sheet, Ambient (outdoor) air quality guidelines, September 2016, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/fact…

WHO Organization’s air quality guidelines for particulate pollution: PM2.5: 10 µg/m3 annual mean 25 µg/m3 24-hour mean/PM10: 20 µg/m3 annual mean 50 µg/m3 24-hour mean

3. Press release for the launch of Unmask my city:

https://www.env-health.org/resources/press-releases/article/unmask-my-city-anti-air-pollution

4. Press photos of the Unmask My City campaign https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B…

5. European Environment Agency: https://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/air

 

HEAL gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the European Union (EU), the European Climate Foundation (ECF) and the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) for Unmask my city work. The responsibility for content lies with the authors and the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the EU institutions and funders. The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (EASME) and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained here. HEAL EU transparency register number: 00723343929-96