People visit a pollution pod by British artist Michael Pinsky outside the venue of the U.N. climate change conference (COP25), in Madrid, Spain, December 2, 2019.(Reuters)
People visit a pollution pod by British artist Michael Pinsky outside the venue of the U.N. climate change conference (COP25), in Madrid, Spain, December 2, 2019.(Reuters)

‘Shortness of breath, wet eyes’: Pollution pods at UN Climate summit give visitors feel of Delhi smog

One or two minutes inside London-based artist Michael Pinsky’s pollution pods at the UN Climate Conference in Madrid and visitors begin experiencing shortness of breath.
By Press Trust of India | Madrid
UPDATED ON DEC 11, 2019 05:50 AM IST

Visitors and world leaders attending the COP 25 Climate Conference here are being immersed in simulated smog conditions of Indian capital New Delhi -- a reality for millions of residents living in one of the most polluted cities in the world -- as part of a creative drive for urgent action against air pollution.

One or two minutes inside London-based artist Michael Pinsky’s pollution pods and visitors begin experiencing shortness of breath.

“I have tried to distil the whole bodily sense of being in each place through these pollutions pods. Being in Sao Paulo, for example, seems like a forest sanctuary as compared to living in the Indian capital New Delhi, until your eyes start to get wet from the sensation of ethanol. On the other hand Tautra is unlike any air you’ll have ever breathed before. It is very pure,” Pinksky told PTI.

He noted that while visitors to the pollution pods at COP25 will experience the sensation of air pollution for a few minutes, breathing toxic air is the reality for millions of people everyday of their lives.

However, there is nothing dangerous in the air in the pods as safe perfume blends and fog machines have been used to imitate the air quality of some of the world’s most polluted cities – New Delhi, London, Beijing, Sao Paulo -- as well as one of the most pristine environments on the planet, Tautra in Norway.

Air pollution has been declared a public health priority by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Largely caused by the burning of fossil fuels driving climate change, polluted air poisons nine out of ten people and causes over 7 million premature deaths every year.

Children are especially vulnerable, with nearly 6 lakh of them dying prematurely every year from air pollution related diseases.

As part of the Clean Air Initiative, in which governments must commit to making air safe by 2030 at the latest, and to encourage urgent action on climate change, world leaders attending the COP25 Summit will be encouraged to walk through this viscerally powerful art installation.

“Michael Pinsky responded to a competition from a university in Norway in order to see if art can change people’s views on climate change,” the organisers told PTI on the sidelines of the event.

“He came up with concept of using air pollution which relates to climate change. He decided to change five different areas of the world to depict the conditions in which millions of people are living,” they said.

The pods start from Norway which has some of the cleanest air in the world.

As people go around they can see the contrast between the different cities.

Most of the people leaving the pods are seen with expressions of shock.

The project was brought to Madrid by several agencies including the WHO.

“We need to agree unequivocally on the need for a world free of air pollution. We need all countries and cities to commit to meeting WHO standards for air quality,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO said in a statement.

Throughout the life course, exposure to air pollution is a major risk for chronic heart and respiratory disease and can inhibit proper brain and lung development in children.

A study published in The Lancet journal showed that 4 million cases of childhood asthma every year could be caused by air pollution resulting from traffic fumes.

“The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs. The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,” said Maria Neira, WHO, Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.

“When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost,” she said.

The pollution pods have been experienced by over 20,000 people since their launch at the Starmus Festival in Norway in June 2018.

Cape Farewell, an international not-for-profit programme based in the UK to raise awareness about climate change through the arts, has managed a tour with locations including: London’s Somerset House for Earth Day (April 2018); Place des Nations - at the UN building in Geneva - for the first WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health (October 2018); and TED’s annual flagship conference in Vancouver (April 2019).

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Some 5.38 million people have been given a first dose of vaccine in the UK, government data showed.(AP)
Some 5.38 million people have been given a first dose of vaccine in the UK, government data showed.(AP)

UK doctors call for shorter gap between Pfizer vaccine doses

Reuters, London
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 02:41 PM IST
The British Medical Association said it supports giving a second dose up to 42 days after the first dose, but that a longer gap is not in line with World Health Organization guidance. It therefore urged the CMO to "urgently review the UK's current position of second doses after 12 weeks".
Close
Khabarovsk : Police detain a man during a protest against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Khabarovsk, 6,100 kilometers (3,800 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. Authorities in Russia have taken measures to curb protests planned for Saturday against the jailing of Navalny. AP/PTI(AP01_23_2021_000017B)(AP)
Khabarovsk : Police detain a man during a protest against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Khabarovsk, 6,100 kilometers (3,800 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. Authorities in Russia have taken measures to curb protests planned for Saturday against the jailing of Navalny. AP/PTI(AP01_23_2021_000017B)(AP)

Russia arrests protesters demanding Alexei Navalny's release

AP, Moscow
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 02:16 PM IST
Authorities say his stay in Germany violated terms of a suspended sentence in a criminal conviction in a case that Navalny says was illegitimate.
Close
The reports describe Donald Trump's increasing frustration with Rosen's refusal to wield the power of the Justice Department to interfere in the count.(Reuters file photo)
The reports describe Donald Trump's increasing frustration with Rosen's refusal to wield the power of the Justice Department to interfere in the count.(Reuters file photo)

Donald Trump mulled replacing attorney general over election results: Report

AFP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 02:07 PM IST
Trump narrowly lost Georgia to Joe Biden in the November presidential election, in a vote he baselessly claimed was rigged.
Close
The image first appeared on a Persian-language Twitter feed that carried a link to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's website.(Reuters file photo)
The image first appeared on a Persian-language Twitter feed that carried a link to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's website.(Reuters file photo)

Top Iran leader posts Trump-like image with drone, vows revenge

Reuters, Dubai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 02:03 PM IST
Tehran retaliated for Soleimani's killing with missile strikes against US targets in Iraq but the two sides backed away from further confrontation.
Close
FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2020, file photo, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers his speech at the commemorating conference on the 70th anniversary of the Chinese army entering North Korea to resist the U.S. army, at the Great Hall fo the People in Beijing. Xi is asking former CEO Howard Schultz of Starbucks to help repair U.S.-Chinese relations that have plunged to their lowest level in decades amid a tariff war and tension over technology and security. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)(AP)
FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2020, file photo, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers his speech at the commemorating conference on the 70th anniversary of the Chinese army entering North Korea to resist the U.S. army, at the Great Hall fo the People in Beijing. Xi is asking former CEO Howard Schultz of Starbucks to help repair U.S.-Chinese relations that have plunged to their lowest level in decades amid a tariff war and tension over technology and security. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)(AP)

China Embassy refutes report it’s seeking meeting with the US

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 01:57 PM IST
Both China and the US should focus on cooperation and manage their disputes in order to facilitate healthy and stable relations, according to the statement.
Close
On day three of his presidency, Joe Biden announced 'The American Rescue Plan' that includes economic relief for most Americans.(AP)
On day three of his presidency, Joe Biden announced 'The American Rescue Plan' that includes economic relief for most Americans.(AP)

Joe Biden signs executive orders to boost economic relief for Americans

PTI, Washington
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 01:38 PM IST
Biden said under his rescue plan, the economy would return to full employment a year faster than without the plan.
Close
US President-elect Joe Biden’s proposed National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that he was ‘deeply concerned’ about the imprisonment of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.(Reuters)
US President-elect Joe Biden’s proposed National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that he was ‘deeply concerned’ about the imprisonment of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.(Reuters)

Joe Biden administration to review US-Taliban agreement

By Rezaul H Laskar, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 01:31 PM IST
  • US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also said the US is committed to consulting closely with the Afghan government, NATO allies and regional partners on a collective strategy to support a stable, sovereign, and secure future for the country.
Close
Members of the National Guard march towards the US Capitol in Washington, DC(Bloomberg)
Members of the National Guard march towards the US Capitol in Washington, DC(Bloomberg)

Biden administration launches inter-agency review of domestic extremism

PTI, Washington
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 01:00 PM IST
Biden admin launches inter-agency review of domestic extremism
Close
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the 8th Congress of the Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea.(REUTERS)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the 8th Congress of the Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea.(REUTERS)

North Korea sees talks as way to advance nuclear program, says US intel official

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 12:25 PM IST
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki reiterated this on Friday, saying North Korea's nuclear weapons were a serious threat to peace and Washington had a vital interest in deterring Pyongyang.
Close
Efforts to vaccinate people for Covid-19 have been frustrated by disarray and limited supplies in some places.(REUTERS)
Efforts to vaccinate people for Covid-19 have been frustrated by disarray and limited supplies in some places.(REUTERS)

Wuhan returns to normal as world still battling pandemic

PTI, Wuhan
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 12:22 PM IST
Hong Kong has been grappling to contain a fresh wave of the coronavirus since November. Over 4,300 cases have been recorded in the last two months, making up nearly 40% of the city's total.
Close
Former US President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Dalton, Georgia, US.(File photo/ Reuters)
Former US President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Dalton, Georgia, US.(File photo/ Reuters)

Trump shuns 'ex-presidents club' — and the feeling is mutual

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 12:11 PM IST
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton recorded a three-minute video from Arlington National Cemetery after President Joe Biden's inauguration this week. The segment included no mention of Trump by name.
Close
Chief Medical Advisor to the US President, Anthony Fauci said that it is a "liberating feeling" to now be able to "talk about what you know, what the evidence, what the science is,"(Reuters)
Chief Medical Advisor to the US President, Anthony Fauci said that it is a "liberating feeling" to now be able to "talk about what you know, what the evidence, what the science is,"(Reuters)

Trump's lack of honesty in handling Covid-19 'very likely' cost lives: Fauci

ANI, Washington
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 12:08 PM IST
Fauci said that it was "uncomfortable" when things like hydroxychloroquine were promoted as treatments for Covid-19.
Close
A file photo of former US President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Dalton, Georgia, US. (REUTERS)
A file photo of former US President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Dalton, Georgia, US. (REUTERS)

Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to start on February 9

By Yashwant Raj
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 11:51 AM IST
The Democratic-led House of Representatives will convey the article of impeachment to the Senate, also controlled by Democrats now, on Monday at 7pm
Close
President Joe Biden reacts to a reporters question after signing executive orders in the State Dinning Room of the White House, in Washington.(AP)
President Joe Biden reacts to a reporters question after signing executive orders in the State Dinning Room of the White House, in Washington.(AP)

In hidden message on White House website, Biden calls for coders

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 11:18 AM IST
Former President Barack Obama launched the service in 2014 to recruit technologists to help revamp government services - for example by modernizing Medicare's payment system or reforming hiring practices across government agencies.
Close
Health workers wear protective gear inside a locked down portion of the Jordan residential area to contain a new outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Hong Kong, China January 23, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu(REUTERS)
Health workers wear protective gear inside a locked down portion of the Jordan residential area to contain a new outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Hong Kong, China January 23, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu(REUTERS)

Thousands of Hong Kongers locked down to contain coronavirus

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 10:15 AM IST
Hong Kong has previously avoided lockdowns in the city during the pandemic, with leader Carrie Lam stating in July last year that authorities will avoid taking such “extreme measures” unless it had no other choice.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP