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|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 42 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Leicester is currently 2 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
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|Thursday, Nov 30|
Moderate 51 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 1|
Moderate 54 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 2|
Moderate 55 AQI US
Good 42 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 4|
Good 22 AQI US
|Tuesday, Dec 5|
Good 21 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 6|
Good 41 AQI US
|Thursday, Dec 7|
Good 18 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 8|
Good 8 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 9|
Good 7 AQI US
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Leicester is a city located in the East Midlands, one of the nine different regions in England. Leicester is in close proximity to other major cities such as Birmingham, Nottingham and Coventry, and is home to over 329 thousand inhabitants (a number that will have grown significantly since the last census taken in 2011). Being one of the second most rapidly growing cities in England, as well as having a prominent industry revolving around textile manufacturing, food and beverages, shopping and engineering, Leicester is subject to some less than perfect levels of air quality, due largely to its rapid growth coupled with intense industrial and business based activity.
In 2019, Leicester came in with a PM2.5 reading of 11.4 μg/m³. This reading placed it into the ‘good’ ratings bracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 10 to 12 μg/m³ to be classified as such. This number also placed it in 2044th place out of all cities ranked worldwide, as well as 21st place out of all cities ranked in the U.K. This is indicative that Leicester is a city that could certainly do more to improve its air quality levels and improve its ranking within the United Kingdom as well as worldwide.
While there are several different contributing factors to the elevated levels of pollution seen in Leicester, to start with one of the more prominent ones, it would be that of vehicular fumes and emissions. With a large amount of commuters taking to the roads every day, there would be subsequent high volumes of chemical pollutants and hazardous particulate matter in the air above the city, as well as on the ground level, emanating largely from vehicles.
Personal ones such as cars and motorbikes would be the main offenders due to their sheer volume, but there are also countless heavy duty vehicles making their way in and out of the city every day. These heavy duty ones include trucks, lorries and buses, and due to their larger size and weight, as well as often running on diesel fuels, they put out larger amounts of pollution per singular vehicle than a smaller and lighter counterpart would. With large amounts of importation and exportation occurring, there would be a high amount of these larger vehicles carrying their industrial loads into Leicester, and when added to the already high volume of personal vehicles on the road, would assist greatly in the high ambient levels of pollution seen in the city.
Other sources of pollution include ones such as factory emissions, with these areas and other related industrial sites often running on fossil fuels such as coal, as well as releasing any industrial effluence related to what is being manufactured (as an example, any factory that deals with plastic products or plastic manufacturing will inevitably release plastic fumes and potentially large amounts of microplastic particles into the air merely as a byproduct). During the colder months, power plants are pushed harder to provide more energy for homes and businesses, and thus will burn through greater amounts of coal as a result, releasing even larger quantities of pollutants into the air.
Observing the data collected in Leicester over the course of 2019, the months that came in with the highest readings of PM2.5 also happened to coincide with the winter months, a common occurrence not just in Leicester and cities in the United Kingdom, but also worldwide, due to some of the aforementioned reasons, as well as increased burning of materials such as firewood and charcoal. The first spike in PM2.5 was seen in November, with the previous month of October coming in within the WHO's target bracket at 9.1 μg/m³, and then jumping up significantly to 14.4 μg/m³ in the following month.
Whilst December dropped back down to 8.8 μg/m³, the early months of the year also displayed high readings of pollution. January through to May where when the pollution levels were at their highest, with readings of 13.7 μg/m³, 14.9 μg/m³, 11.4 μg/m³, 19.4 μg/m³ and 10.2 μg/m³ respectively. After May the PM2.5 count dropped down to more appreciable levels, and in review, with the exception of December, the months of November through to May of the following year are when the pollution levels were at their worst, with April having the highest reading at 19.4 μg/m³.
Whilst a majority of the population can be affected by higher spikes in pollution, with no one being truly immune to the adverse effects that dangerous chemical pollutants and hazardous particulate matter can pose, there are certain groups that are even more at risk for a number of reasons, with their physical status being the main one. One such demographic would be that of young children, who are still undergoing their most important formative years, and as such the excessive exposure to pollution can lead to allergies being developed, some of which can turn into lifelong conditions, reducing the quality of an individual’s life as well as causing possibilities of being more prone to illness or chemical sensitivity later in life.
Other vulnerable groups are the elderly, who often have a tendency towards physical frailty as well as being susceptible towards respiratory conditions, which often carry life threatening repercussions if caught. Others include those who have preexisting health conditions or compromised immune systems, as well as pregnant mothers, who can suffer dire consequences such as higher rates of miscarriage, premature births or babies being born with a low weight along with a higher chance of a physical or mental defect being present (due to the damaging effect that pollution has on a child whilst in the womb, with many chemicals causing permanent neurological changes or physical changes if exposure is high enough).
Some of the main health issues would be a variety of respiratory ailments such as pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. Cancer rates can also go up steeply, as well as instances of cardiac problems, with ones such as ischemic heart disease, angina and arrythmias all being possible. Excessive inhalation of PM2.5 and PM10 can lead to rapid aging or scarring of the lung tissues, which besides reducing the lungs full function, can also cause an individual to become more susceptible to the aforementioned respiratory ailments mentioned above.
4 Data sources