-> 2010 -> Clean Air on Islay (and Scotland)

Dimàirt, 28/Sep/2010

Clean Air on Islay (and Scotland)

Recently Ron wrote an entry The Climate on Islay and Mainland Scotland with a bunch of colourful maps by the Met Office. With them he was trying to show that Islay generally has a nicer climate than the mainland. Having experienced holidays both ways (i.e. Islay fine, mainland horrid as well as Islay damp, mainland brilliant) I don't know yet if I should agree with his interpretation. Anyway, I had to think of his entry when I came across an interesting article on the NASA website with in a way similar maps, starting with the global view:

Graphic of global air pollution

The map is from a feature article New Map Offers a Global View of Health-Sapping Air Pollution about the latest research into a specific type of particle:

[..]a subcategory of airborne particles that epidemiologists suspect contributes to millions of premature deaths each year. The problematic particles, called fine particulate matter (PM2.5), are 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, about a tenth the fraction of human hair. These small particles can get past the body’s normal defenses and penetrate deep into the lungs.

Simplified the colder (darker blue) the colour the better (less particles), the hotter (redder) the colour the worse (more particles).

Cutout of Western and Central Europe on a graphical map showing air pollution

Now the map doesn't go into a huge amount of detail, but cutting out the Western and Continental Europe section from the higher resolution map provides at least an idea of what this means for Scotland and Islay. Looking at the UK only the northern half with in particular Scotland looks rather good and typically seems to be below the World Health Organization's recommended level of 10 micrograms per cubic meter.

Of course this doesn't mean the air in Scotland and possibly even in certain pockets on Islay can't be bad. I suspect in particular in the bigger cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh, but possibly also on Islay e.g. during a cold winter night when many people have a fire on, the levels might be significantly higher. In general though the pollution levels will be much lower than what many people in England and across Continental Europe will experience.

Another reason to visit Islay then, the clean fresh air. But then you knew that anyway. Only that you now have (some) scientific backup.

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