Imagine if someone told you that you’ve been smoking 8.7 cigarettes a day! That is just how much smoke the residents of Delhi have been inhaling according to a new app, ‘Sh**t! I Smoke’ which attempts to put into perspective the ill-effects of air pollution across the world.
Cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Bangalore are not that far behind as real-time data shows the number of cigarettes which are equivalent to the city’s air quality at a given point in time.
The app which was launched last month on both Android and iOS platforms, uses location-specific data for PM2.5 – floating particulate matter, which includes organic and inorganic pollutants, with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns that can enter the respiratory system, to calculate the quality of air which is then put into perspective by comparing it with cigarette smoke.
The app further states that it was inspired by Berkeley Earth’s findings on the equivalence of air pollution and cigarettes.
“PM2.5 particles are small enough to work their way deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream, where they can trigger heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and asthma,” says the study which was co-authored by Richard Mueller, a physics professor at University of California, Berkeley.
It further reads, “Here is the rule of thumb: one cigarette a day is the rough equivalent of a PM2.5 level of 22μg/m3. Of course, unlike cigarette smoking, the pollution reaches every age group.”
Earlier this month, the World Health Foundation declared Delhi as the most polluted megacity in the world and Mumbai, the fourth-most polluted. Its report also noted that 14 Indian cities were among the 20 most polluted in the world, reported the Hindustan Times.
According to the developers of the app, most people aren’t aware of the extent of damage that the quality of air can do to their body. “Air-quality monitoring stations only provide numbers that are specific to professionals who work on environmental issues. So, when you make this conversion to cigarettes, it makes it easier for people to understand what they are dealing with, and the consequences air quality has in their daily lives,” said Paris-born app developer Amaury Martiny, in the Hindustan Times report.