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Rooftop art installation to highlight air quality problems

Pencil drawn images beamed on roof-mounted screen at St Thomas’ Hospital London to promote air quality awareness

Air quality campaigners are hoping that an art installation on display near London’s South Bank will help raise awareness of the effects of exposure to polluted air in the capital.

The installation, which is on display throughout October, consists of a series of images projected onto an eight metre tall screen on top of St Thomas’ Hospital, Lambeth opposite the Houses of Parliament every evening.

The ‘Breathe’ installation is on display throughout October on the roof of St Thomas’ Hospital

The pencil drawn images, produced by artist Dryden Goodwin, depict the different stages of a child taking air into his lungs and are intended to make people think about the effect of poor air quality on the body. According to Mr Goodwin, the images attempt to make the ‘invisible, visible’.

The project has been set up by environmental art group Invisible Dust, with support from King’s College London’s Air Quality research team, The Wellcome Trust, Arts Council England and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.

Speaking at the launch of the project in the House of Commons yesterday (October 16) Joan Walley MP, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee said that the project would help to highlight the need for government intervention to tackle the UK’s air quality problem.

Awareness

And, according to the MP, greater public awareness of air quality was needed in order to influence government policy.

She said: “We believe that greater public awareness on the issue of air quality is going to be key to influencing government policy. Until people see and are aware of the damage that it is doing to health and understand the issue, government can avoid being held to account.â€?

Ms Walley also pointed to the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on air quality, published in November 2011, which claimed that poor air quality in the UK was causing thousands of premature deaths.

She added: “We want to get a message across about the importance of the report we have done.â€?

Also speaking at the launch was Professor Frank Kelly of King’s College London, who highlighted the significance of the project in helping to raise awareness of air quality, and who outlined the extent of the current problem in the UK.

He said: “We now know that it is not only bad pollution days that people have to worry about poor air quality, it is long term cumulative exposure which results in problems. In 2008 there were around 29,000 people dying prematurely because of the quality of air that they were breathing.

“The effects of poor air quality on children have also been studied, and show that children who live within 100 metres of a busy road have a smaller lung capacity than those living further away. In the last few weeks Transport for London has started a campaign against engine idling which recongises that we need to do more to tackle the problem.â€?

The animation is also available as a smartphone app and can be downloaded from breathe-drydengoodwin.net.

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