A robotic teddy bear perched on a pole near Brixton Road, London, is showing the condition of air pollution in this area. When air pollution levels reach a limit which is set by the government and comes within the values that recommend anyone with heart or lung issues to reduce outdoor exercise, the Toxic Toby teddy bear, put his paw to his mouth and coughs. McCann London is the creative advertising agency behind this project. They say that they are trying to make people aware of air pollution and bring this matter to public consciousness.
James Crosby, a creative designer at the advertising agency, said, “We discovered the alarming statistic that more people die every year from breathing in the toxic air than from car accidents.” A recent report also declared that more than 400,000 people die in Europe annually from air pollution-related health problems. London is also among the worst polluted cities in the region. The city experiences nearly 200 deaths caused by car accidents each year while more than 9000 people die prematurely from illness related to air pollution. Toby will be moved to more locations in London as a part of the campaign to bring the issue of air pollution to people’s insight.
Toby bear was made from 3D printed parts and can turn his head, raise his paw, and cough. He gets air quality data from BreezoMeter, which is a company monitoring pollution in real time. When the air pollution crosses a certain point, Toby is triggered to cough. With each a cough, a tweet is also sent to the local politicians which urges them to take action on the issue of air pollution. Crosby who works on Brixton Road says that the air is so bad it often leaves a bad taste in your mouth. He has asthma and also concerned with the number of primary schools in the vicinity. Many children are at risk of developing respiratory diseases when they are exposed to poor quality air for an extended period.
The team also plans to take Toxic Toby on the road to highlight other areas around the UK with high levels of air pollution. A report from the European Court of Auditors (ECA) regarding air quality across Europe claims that air pollution is now the ‘biggest environmental risk’ in Europe. The report also condemned the EU for failing to act on the issue. Janusz Wojciechowski, ECA member, who conducted the report said, “In recent decades, EU policies have contributed to emission reductions, but air quality has not improved at the same rate, and there are still considerable impacts on public health.” More than 40,000 deaths are caused each year by poor air quality in the UK. The politicians also fear that the unease around Brexit will make the UK slip behind in environmental regulation.