"Imagine a fleet of ageing factories operating in neighbourhoods across
On most days the smoke from their stacks is hardly noticed. But on cold days
when the smog settles in the densely populated valleys and towns, doctors
notice unusually high numbers of people suffering from a range of problems,
Air-quality researchers are called in to study the problem in more detail. They
confirm that neighbourhoods with these old factories have higher concentrations
of fine particles, which are toxic air pollutants.
Invisible to the naked eye, particles are inhaled deep into the lungs, enter
the bloodstream and cause a range of harms throughout the body. This air
pollution is linked to higher rates of heart and lung diseases, strokes,
dementia and some cancers. It also increases the risk of adverse pregnancy
outcomes and poorer learning outcomes in children.
The researchers calculate that each year pollution from the factories causes
269 premature deaths in Sydney, 69 in Tasmania and 14 in Armidale, New South
While the factories are supposed to be built, maintained and operated to
certain standards, the regulations are rarely if ever enforced. There isn’t
even a central register to tell authorities how many of these factories exist,
how old they are, and where they are located.
As news of this research is made public, how would the affected communities
react? What might they demand of government?
Would it matter if they knew we were not talking about factories, but wood
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics