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The air pollution map for Liverpool is very easy to find on the main city page. A map picture will appear at the top of this main page which, once selected, will open a new page dedicated to air quality in the city and its environs.
The first thing that a viewer will notice is the overall colour of the background of the map. It is currently green which indicates “Good” air quality. An indication of what the various colours mean can be seen in the legend at the bottom of the screen. The available colours range from pale green to dark maroon with the darker colours representing progressively worse air quality. The colours are standard across the whole IQAir website.
The viewer will also notice several coloured circles or discs scattered across the map. They show the location of all the ground-level air monitoring stations in and around the city. In the centre of each circle can be seen a number. This is the United States Air Quality Index number or US AQI for short.
It is calculated by measuring the levels of six of the most prolific pollutants found in city air. The pollutants recorded are usually, but not limited to, both sizes of Particulate Matter (PM2.5 and PM10), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide. Once this reading has been established, it is used when comparing air quality in different cities around the world. It is fully endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
If any station is of specific interest, the selection process will open a new page which contains all the information about air quality in that part of the city.
Looking back at the main page. The US AQI reading is prominently displayed in the coloured banner at the top of the page. As with the discs, this colour indicates the current air quality. Towards the end of 2022, the reading was 57 which was classified as being “Moderate”. The main pollutant measured was PM2.5 with a recorded level of 15.1 µg/m³. This level is currently over three times higher than the suggested target figure of 5 µg/m³, as recommended by the WHO.
Some world cities rely on satellite data for their calculations about air quality and Liverpool is one of those cities. There are several stations in the area but they are not directly connected to Liverpool. The coloured banner on the main page bears an asterisk after the US AQI reading which denotes that this figure is derived from satellite modelling.
Because Liverpool does not have any air sensor data and relies heavily on satellite information, it is not possible to differentiate between areas of greater pollution and the other areas.
The rest of the information about air quality on the air pollution map for Liverpool can be difficult to see unless the page is viewed in full-screen mode. The icon to expand the map to this level can be seen at the top of the map.
When viewed in this way, the first option shows the position of all the monitoring stations within the area. All these options can be selected individually and turned off and on to get a greater understanding of what each choice does.
As already stated, Liverpool has no such stations yet there are around twelve discs on the air pollution map that can all be explored individually. The second option shows the position of any wildfires that might be burning in the area. At the start of November 2022, there were no icons anywhere on the map. If there are fires burning in the area, then option four could be very useful as it shows the wind speed and direction and will give a good indication of where the ensuing smoke may blow.
Option three is the most theatrical because it can change the overall background colour of the map to show the current air quality. Some may find the strong colouration to be intrusive and a little confusing, in which case it can be deactivated and the map will revert to a standard set of colours.
There is more information on the right-hand side of the screen where a table can be found which lists the world cities according to their levels of air pollution. By default, only seven cities are listed on that page but it can be explored which will then open another page with all of the participating cities listed.
The main source of air pollution is not shown directly on the air pollution map for Liverpool. It has been proved that it is emissions from road vehicles that are responsible for most of the nitrogen dioxide found in the city air.
Particulate Matter (PM) is also commonplace in the air. It is made up of lots of different things which is why it can be so dangerous. Its composition can include emissions from vehicle exhausts, smoke or soot from fires, bits of metal from engines, bits worn from brakes and tyres and dust and waste from the road.
Particulate matter causes the most damage to health. When it is breathed in, the larger particles stick in the throat and windpipe. The smallest particles bypass the body’s defence systems and go deep down into the lungs and can pass into the blood. Once in the blood, they can be transported around the body and they can be found in different organs.
Air pollution has the greatest impact on children, the elderly and people with existing heart and lung conditions. It can increase the risk of needing to be admitted to hospital with heart and lung conditions and contributes to people dying young before their time.
Children are particularly vulnerable as their lungs are still developing. For their size, they breathe more air per minute than an adult, and pushchairs and prams put them at the level of car exhausts! Air pollution can stunt lung development, and can affect children for life.