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Truth Behind the Headlines: Danger to health warning issued on Bonfire Night

Sheffield media is reporting that on Bonfire Night 2020, the air quality in Sheffield reached levels nearly 15 times the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended exposure levels. Resulting in a “danger to health” warning being issued.  


The Air Quality Index (AQI) for the city reached 293, according to the World Air Map produced by Plume Labs.  


This is a concern as air pollution can move from your lungs into your bloodstream and reach many organs. It can particularly affect individuals who are more vulnerable to harm including those with heart and lung disease, children and the elderly. 

Using our recommended five tips, Global Action Plan reviewed the study:


Questions to ask to get to the truth Our response
1. Does the article refer to a report to back up its claims?

The article refers to data produced by Plume Labs showing live air quality in Sheffield.  

2. Who is behind the study it refers to?

Plume Labs used data provided by King's College London and DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).  

3. How fantastical and radical is the claim that is being made?

The Plume Air Quality Index covers 5 pollutants (O3, NO2, SO2, PM10 and PM2.5) in line with WHO annual, daily and hourly exposure guidelinesIt calculates the combined impacts of all of these pollutants, over different periods of time to produce a score.  


4. What geographical region does the claim refer to?

Sheffield, United Kingdom 

5. What is the sample size of the study?

It is not clear the number of air quality monitoring sites were used to create the Air Plume map.  


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