Tuesday September 17, 2019

Air Pollution Can Reduce Work Productivity: Study

The researchers, however, remain agnostic about the reasons that explain why productivity goes down when pollution goes up, the study noted

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Egypt, pollution, seeds
Air pollution can hamper work productivity. VOA

Besides affecting health, prolonged exposure to air pollution can also reduce employee’s productivity, finds a study.

The study showed that daily fluctuations in pollution did not immediately affect the productivity of workers.

However, a definite drop in output was witnessed when measured for more prolonged exposures of up to 30 days, the researchers said.

 In addition, working in a highly polluted setting for long periods of time could affect your mood or disposition to work.

“Our aim with this research was to broaden the understanding of air pollution in ways that have not been explored. We typically think that firms benefit from lax pollution regulations, by saving on emission control equipment and the like; here we document an adverse effect on the productivity of their work force,” said Alberto Salvo, Associate Professor from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Delhi. air pollution
A man rides his bicycle in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, Dec. 26, 2018. VOA

For the study, published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, the team gathered information from textile factories in China which involved interviewing managers before obtaining access to data.

They compared how many pieces of fabric each worker produced each day to measures of the concentration of particulate matter that the worker was exposed to over time.

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“We found that an increase in PM2.5, by 10 micrograms per cubic metre sustained over 25 days, reduces daily output by one per cent, harming firms and workers,” said Haoming Liu, Associate Professor of the varsity.

“The effects are subtle but highly significant,” said Liu.

The researchers, however, remain agnostic about the reasons that explain why productivity goes down when pollution goes up, the study noted. (IANS)

Next Story

Barcelona Could Cut Deaths from Air Pollution and Improve Quality of Life by Implementing in Full Plan

A study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), published in the journal Environment International, found the city of Barcelona

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Barcelona, Deaths, Air Pollution
FILE - Pollution and clouds are seen over the sky of Barcelona, Spain, July 25, 2019. VOA

Barcelona could cut deaths from air pollution and improve quality of life by implementing in full a plan to calm traffic and free up space for residents, researchers said Monday.

The compact Spanish city is home to more than 1.6 million people and is plagued by contaminants and noise largely due to heavy density of traffic, as well as lack of greenery.

A study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), published in the journal Environment International, found the city of Barcelona could prevent 667 premature deaths every year if it created 503 “superblocks” as first proposed.

The superblocks — which keep cars out of designated areas in the city and develop public space in streets — have been complex to roll out, with only six put in place so far.

Barcelona, Deaths, Air Pollution
Barcelona could cut deaths from air pollution and improve quality of life by implementing in full a plan to calm traffic and free up space for residents. Pixabay

“What we want to show with this study is that we have to go back and put the citizen at the center of … urban plans, because the health impacts are quite considerable,” said lead author and ISGlobal researcher Natalie Mueller.

As a city with the highest traffic density in Europe, Barcelona also needed to make it easier for people to commute in from the wider metropolitan area by public transport, she added.

The projected reduction in deaths from the superblocks plan would be achieved mainly as a result of a 24% decrease in air pollution from nitrogen oxide (NO2), along with lower traffic noise and urban heat, the study said.

Data released Friday from the Barcelona Public Health Agency showed air pollution accounted for 351 premature deaths in the city in 2018, around the same as in 2017.

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Motor vehicles generated the main pollutant, with almost half the city’s population regularly exposed to NO2 levels above the safe limit set by the World Health Organization, the city council said.

From January 2020, Barcelona will implement low-emission zones on weekdays, keeping 125,000 vehicles out of the city.

The city council will also declare a climate emergency including a package of urgent measures to cut down on private vehicle use and boost public transport, among other actions.

It has already extended cycle paths and upgraded its shared bike scheme, while shrinking on-street parking.

 

Barcelona, Deaths, Air Pollution

The compact Spanish city is home to more than 1.6 million people and is plagued by contaminants and noise largely due to heavy density of traffic, as well as lack of greenery. Pixabay

‘Courage’ needed

Barcelona City Hall told the Thomson Reuters Foundation it aimed to start drafting plans for three new superblocks shortly, as well as launching public consultations for others.

The ISGlobal study found that, besides reducing deaths, a full roll-out of the superblocks project would increase life expectancy by almost 200 days on average per inhabitant, and generate an annual economic saving of 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion).

The superblocks have sparked opposition in some local areas, notably among small traders who fear they could deter customers.

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But Mueller said the concept was similar to banning smoking in bars and restaurants, which was initially unpopular but quickly accepted once people realized the benefits.

“Even if they don’t see it in the beginning, often in the end they are quite happy,” she said, noting the need for “courage” in public policy making. (VOA)