Streets are peculiar places filled with life; they are where identities are played out, where minority groups make their voices heard, where the unique activities and character of streets are so very often marked by polluted environments. I thought that this topic will definitely be worth exploring!
Street pollution is of utmost concern, considering the dynamic environment of streets, which increases human exposure to various pollutants. Some pollutants creep stealthily into our bodies or cause us frustration (for instance, noise pollution), some affect the environment and ecosystems, while the others are more conspicuous. For instance, in Vietnam, coal stoves on the street (in addition to the huge number of vehicles) contribute immensely to the poor air quality in Hanoi.
The smoky streets begin a “new working day” after noon, when servers of the pavement food shops begin making a fire for their coal stoves. On the Thai Ha Market area alone, where there are tens of duck and dog meat shops located, tens of stoves begin operating, thus generating so many black columns of smoke.
— From ‘The smoky streets of Hanoi‘ (Retrieved 21st January 2015) [this article’s title is also the source of inspiration for this blog’s name 😛 ]
Polluted streets are all over the world, and this is just one of many examples. London’s Oxford Street, for instance, is said to have the worst nitrogen dioxide pollution in the world; it is noted from the discussions here that poor collection of data from other parts of the world may have left out many cities with streets that are just as, if not more, polluted than Oxford Street (perhaps we may explore more about data collection methodologies in subsequent posts!). Nonetheless, the fact remains that pollutants are well above the safe standard prescribed by the regional authorities.
It is definitely useful to look at street pollution then, with more places connected by roads and the increased number of vehicles around the world. While many cities are attempting to shift towards greener modes of transport (e.g. green vehicles, cycling), it is undeniable that street pollution is still an issue, especially in major cities; it is an issue that we should all be cognisant towards.
The Guardian (2014). Environment: The Eco audit. Does London have the worst NO2 pollution on Earth? [Online] Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/10/london-worst-no2-pollution-earth [Last accessed: 21st January 2015]
Vietnam.net Bridge (2010). The Smoky Streets in Hanoi. [Online] Retrieved from http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/environment/69397/the-smoky-streets-in-hanoi.html [Last accessed 21st January 2015]