Riders in the smog

Article by Zuha Siddiqui, Samriddhi Sakuna and Faisal Mahmud: “…To better understand air quality exposure among gig workers in South Asia, Rest of World gave three gig workers — one each in Lahore, New Delhi, and Dhaka — air quality monitors to wear throughout a regular shift in January. The Atmotube Pro monitors continually tracked their exposure to carcinogenic pollutants — specifically PM1, PM2.5, and PM10 (different sizes of particulate matter), and volatile organic compounds such as benzene and formaldehyde.

The data revealed that all three workers were routinely exposed to hazardous levels of pollutants. For PM2.5, referring to particulates that are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less — which have been linked to health risks including heart attacks and strokes — all riders were consistently logging exposure levels more than 10 times the World Health Organization’s recommended daily average of 15 micrograms per cubic meter. Manu Sharma, in New Delhi, recorded the highest PM2.5 level of the three riders, hitting 468.3 micrograms per cubic meter around 6 p.m. Lahore was a close second, with Iqbal recording 464.2 micrograms per cubic meter around the same time.

Alongside tracking specific pollutants, the Atmotube Pro gives an overall real-time air quality score (AQS) from 0–100, with zero being the most severely polluted, and 100 being the cleanest. According to Atmo, the company that makes the Atmotube monitors, a reading of 0–20 should be considered a health alert, under which conditions “everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion.” But the three gig workers found their monitors consistently displayed the lowest possible score…(More)”.

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