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London asthma sufferers get space-based help

The city of London has launched an innovative service, funded by ESA, which delivers air pollution alerts and health advice via SMS text messages to those who suffer from asthma and other conditions vulnerable to poor air quality.

The airTEXT service officially kicked off at Londons City Hall yesterday with the Deputy Mayor of London Nicky Gavron addressing the event: "Theres more than love in the air this spring! Air pollution causes around one thousand premature deaths each year, and we must do everything we can to cut emissions. "This pioneering service will provide people with crucial information about peak periods of air pollution localised for their part of London, so they can take action. It could literally save lives."

AirTEXT is a free service aimed at those who have been diagnosed with asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, heart disease or angina as well as for those who live or work in London. The service has operated in the Borough of Croydon, the largest borough by population, since July 2005 and has received a positive response with 80 percent of users saying it has helped them manage their symptoms better and reduce their exposure to air pollution.

Subscribers can choose whether they want airTEXT alerts delivered through SMS text messages, voicemail or e-mail and whether they want to receive the alerts the morning of days when air pollution is likely to be higher than normal or the evening before. Forecasts are generated for each London borough.

Messages will indicate moderate, high or very high levels of pollution are expected, what effects are likely to be noticed, such as wheezing, difficulty in breathing or chest pains, and what should be done to minimise the effects, such as avoiding long periods outdoors, avoiding strenuous outdoor activity and increasing the dose of reliever medication as directed by a physician.

The Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC) developed airTEXT using
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
29-Mar-2007


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