Deep breaths in the city by Aoife O'Doherty

Toxic levels of air pollution contribute to serious health complications and premature deaths.

In the UK, the legal level of air pollution (measured by PM 2.5*) is currently 20µg/m3, with intentions to meet 10µg/m3 by 2040. However, in 2021 the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised that population exposure of PM2.5 should not exceed 5µg/m3 because of the deadly harmful risks.

This visualisation captures air pollution data and correlating insights data captured across the top 10 populated UK cities. It indicates that all cities greatly exceed the WHO guideline. This story of breathing toxic air is inspired by the story of Ella Roberta who died because of poor air quality and was the first person to have air pollution listed on a death certificate.

The design uses murky colours to represent polluting air, whilst illustrations of organic shapes energise a serious issue and use of data talking about real lives. The dandelion seeds blowing off the abstract flower shape represent and remember the too many premature deaths due to air pollution. A call to action encourages the public to help tackle air pollution through government campaigning, spreading awareness and individually monitoring air quality levels.