Air Pollution from increased bonfires during Coronovirus

Montero

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
2,226
This came from the British Lung Foundation.

Recently, most of us have been clapping for our key workers, helping our neighbours, or practising strict social distancing. It’s been incredible to see everyone coming together.

And because we’re spending more time than ever at home, people that are lucky enough to have gardens have often been spending more time outside. Unfortunately, that also means you may have noticed more people are starting to burn garden waste or have bonfires, which is really bad for people with lung conditions.

It’s crucial that, across all our villages, towns and cities, we keep the air clean so that people with lung conditions are protected.

You can help. Check out this blog from Zak and Dan, our resident experts in air pollution, about what’s happening, and then share it with everyone you can think of.

Let’s come together once again, just like we have when we’ve clapped for our key workers.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
23,908
Location
Highlands
It's ironic that, because in the science press I've been reading there's generally been a massive downturn in air pollution:

 

Montero

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
2,226
Oh yeah. If you go on through to the blog, a lot of the British Lung Foundation supporters who are patients have been reporting improved symptoms due to reduced air pollution - and now this happens.
 

AlexH

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
1,159
Location
Staffordshire, UK
It's ironic that, because in the science press I've been reading there's generally been a massive downturn in air pollution:

Fires in residential areas are much more noticeable. In the past month or so, I've had to shut windows on numerous occasions thanks to smoke from somewhere (I've never seen where exactly), even late at night. It's sometimes pretty toxic smelling smoke. I guess much of that is due to tips and recycling centres being closed where I live, though they did reopen partly last week with some bizarre password system. I've seen an increase in fly-tipping in the past 2 months.

I'd also disagree with that headline that says "quarantine prevents thousands of deaths" (I haven't read the article). How many people won't see a doctor or go to a hospital because of quarantine, and perhaps die as a result? People have had their lives put on hold in terms of health, with very important operations and all sorts postponed until who knows when. What will peoples' mental health be like when this is all over?

It's not simply a net drop in emissions or air pollution either, as streaming, for example, has a big negative environmental impact and causes pollution somewhere. As does the clapping for key workers every week in terms of noise pollution. I don't really see that as people coming together. It is of course to an extent, but I'm in danger of getting into politics there. I've heard a few accounts of children and people who have to sleep early due to night shifts being woken up, especially when people start banging pans together and setting off fireworks. I appreciate there are key workers who appreciate it, but some have good reasons not to, and it's gone beyond the spontaneous thing it was - when does it stop? Sorry to sound like a curmudgeon there - just an alternate view!
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
23,908
Location
Highlands
And back on-topic with the science. :)

The real concern IMO is how the world will transition to some degree of normality after lockdown, without causing a significant increase in air pollution again. We've certainly seen a move to technologies such as working from home, which have been available for ages but big companies were very slow on the take up. Hopefully significant continued use of that will help - companies such as Dell have already stated they plan to implement that:

 

Montero

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
2,226
I've been trying to encourage working from home for years. With offices it is easy (compared to factories) and the savings on office space would be enormous - and the redundant offices could be made into flats for people struggling to find a home rather than building new. It is actually something that Reading Borough Council did years ago - office buildings that lacked modern infrastructure as in vast amounts of conduiting for ether net and power and the raised floors over it, became flats instead.

Some IT employers embrace working from home, others have managers who regard it with suspicion as they want all workers under their eye. I've worked in both sorts of companies. In the second sort I was allowed to work from home for a week when I had a foot problem - which helped a lot. In the first company they'd have people in the office for a couple of months when they started, then encouraged some of them to work from home to make space for the next round of new starters. They preferred to see all their staff once a week, so come in on one day, but staggered it. But that was a company that already was working on split sites and had offices in different time zones. Some people's jobs lent themselves to remote working more than others, but it was really nice not to have to travel an hour either way to go lurk in a crowded open plan hot orange office with a mainline railway running next to it.

However, if Dell are leading the way, hopefully a lot will follow - it will become the new trendy business thing to do. It will also have the advantage that you could live somewhere a long way from your work - so areas with fewer jobs located there may see an upturn in employment. There are already companies providing office admin, including pretending to be a reception desk in an office building when they're not. (I deal with one that somewhat irritates me as I've physically been to their small office and know there is no reception desk......:D I just wish the "reception" would just up front say they are a phone answering service.)
 
Last edited:

-K2-

mƎ kn0w dUm!
Joined
Jun 19, 2018
Messages
1,573
Location
'Merica
I'm not sure how it works on the opposite side of the pond, but at the beginning of the outbreak--in our state--they put a temporary ban on burning to reduce the number of incidents that required the fire department and any subsequent injuries. That was also a point made regarding unessential travel--even around town--the concern over traffic accidents adding patients requiring hospitalization.

Point being, could you bring that up to the city council from that aspect? Though it will likely not stop all incidents of burning, it might reduce them enough to ease the situation.

As a side note, as things re-open a lot of businesses are running on reduced hours. Here in 'Merica, folks got used to 24/7 businesses, which often didn't make the business much more money than standard hours. People just expected it and competition forced it. It would be great if hours/days remained limited like they were 30 years ago.

K2
 

AlexH

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
1,159
Location
Staffordshire, UK
I was happy to work from home occasionally pre-COVID-19, but I was asked for two jobs whether I'd prefer to go into the office or work from home. Both times, I didn't think twice when saying the office. It helps that the offices in question were decent places to work. I have worked in horrible offices. My commutes involved exercise or the train, so I was happy with that, as I often made good use of the time on the train.

Working from has been my biggest struggle in the current circumstances. I find it hard to get motivated some days, and working from home has made other usually pleasurable things seem a chore. I also feel pressure to make up the time when there are technical problems, such as my broadband not working. Both my employers have been good about this, so it could be worse. And it isn't just working from home that causes the struggle - it's much about the current situation, though I have always tried to keep my home and work life separate.

My short-story writing and creativity has suffered immensely since working from home. I enjoy going outside for exercise, but since 'lockdown,' most of my time inside the house has been spent watching TV and film. I barely watched TV before but have binge-watched a couple of series (binge-watching is still only 2 or 3 episodes a week for me).

So my ideal plan in terms of working when this is over, I guess, would be for communal offices where people can work if they don't wish to work from home. Something affordable or supported by the company you're working for. Many such offices exist already in major cities, so a wider spread of such premises would reduce the need for long commutes.

Twitter and Square are two big companies who have said their employees can work from home post-dystopia if they wish.
 

dannymcg

"Pip" "Pop" "Bim" "Bam"
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
4,489
Location
Cumbria UK
A major employer in my area built a big office block in the town about five years ago.
This was to remove about 1500 people from the main site a few miles away, to help reduce massive morning traffic on small roads.

However instead of then opting to get people who live in the town to use these new offices they instead did it by transferring various departments, some long established.

We now have a majority of people from another town 35 miles away driving past their old site and office buildings and continuing another eight miles to the new offices.
The people who live within two miles of the new offices are now driving eight miles away and working in the recently vacated old office blocks.

Interdepartmental politics at play
 

AlexH

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
1,159
Location
Staffordshire, UK
I've just had to choose again between inhaling stinky smoke or feeling claustrophobic in a hot room. I still can't tell where the smoke is coming from.
 

hitmouse

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
2,007
I am cycling to work each day through near empty inner city terraced rows, a lovely green park, and a completely deserted university campus. It smells of late Springtime, and the birds sing. Wonderful. The only time I smell smoke is when a cycle past an area where someone has been having a cigarette. I can practically smell those through a brick wall anyway.
 

Foxbat

None The Wiser
Supporter
Joined
Jul 24, 2003
Messages
7,779
Location
Scotland
Not seen any bonfires here (south east Scotland) but I’m hearing regular loud bangs. It’s too close to be coming from the fields outside town and I suspect somebody has a bird scarer in their garden (is that legal?) . On the working from home scenario....I’m not convinced it’s a good thing (but maybe that’s because my job couldn’t be done from home). My reasoning is this...my work could get quite stressful and it always felt good to get home and escape it for a while. How will it feel if the job you do is stressful and home-based? How will you escape if your place of safety is also your source of stress? How will that affect mental health?
 

Montero

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
2,226
Fair point but I found a good chunk of my stress came from being in a crowded open plan office, having to tune out the people around me, not to mention getting up seriously early for the crowded train commute. I love gardening, but in winter I could only see the garden on the weekends - we left before dawn and returned after sunset.
We did actually have one bedroom purposed as a study, so when been working from home in there all day, could shut the door on it and chill elsewhere. If not on call, you can leave the works mobile in there too, so there aren't the evening interruptions. I also found it a big advantage to have the garden to decompress in at lunch time, not to mention being able to spend lunch break on something useful, like assembling a stew in the slow cooker, or watering the tomatoes. And I gained all the time spent commuting, either for extra work or for me. My mental health was definitely better for not being in that horrible office - I slept better at night too. My office was in a sea of concrete, and at lunchtime I could walk briskly to a park - but that was trodden flat and in earshot of a major road.

Edited to add
It also shouldn't be one size fits all. I adored working from home, as you say, others might not. Elsewhere in the thread the points have been made that Dell is offering people the choice, also that you could have local offices for people to go to with a mix of people from various companies in the one office. That would need handling in terms of commercial sensitivity - perhaps some jobs must not be done in one of those, or perhaps to use the office you have to sign a confidentiality agreement respecting all other users. With wifi and mobiles it doesn't necessarily have to be a purpose built office building. You could have anything providing it met health and safety requirements including enough toilets. Rent out your granny flat, church and village halls renting space, shops with a flat above them letting that out, unused high street shops having a few desks in - it would be a great way of giving buildings new life, and people who like going into town could then be on the high street working, see plenty of other people, have places to nip out to at lunch break.
 
Last edited:

dannymcg

"Pip" "Pop" "Bim" "Bam"
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
4,489
Location
Cumbria UK
*shuffles guiltily*
Well, er, I've just came back in from my garden.
I've put a good hour in, with a leaf burner bin, and got rid of a massive load of household rubbish.
All burned up and gone away!
 

hitmouse

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
2,007
I maintain a previously neglected 5 acre wood behind my house. Lots of mature trees and saplings. Lots of stuff falls over or off. I clear up, cut down, thin, pollard, cut and lay hedges. Split and stack homegrown firewood, and inevitably have regular large bonfires throughout the year to get rid of the small branches, sweepings, brambles, and the rotten wood that is no good for burning indoors. Basically stuff that will not go on the compost heap. I view this as part of a sustainable ecosystem in equilibrium ( in fact more productive under active management) and one that has a useful output, as well as being amazingly therapeutic.
 
Top