This Immersive Installation Lets You Experience Air Pollution Around the World

Photo: Michael Pinsky

The "Pollution Pods" mimic the unique smog of cities around the world, from New Delhi and London to a tiny Norwegian island.

There are a lot of things that make the cities of our world different: architecture, culture, food, geography… air pollution levels.

Visual Artist Michael Pinsky put together a simulation in Vancouver for a recent TED conference that allows visitors get a real taste of the air quality from a handful of cities around the world within individual "pollution" domes.

Those cities are London, Beijing, New Delhi, Sao Paulo, and Tautra Island in Norway, according to Designboom. To get the perfect air for each city, scent and climate experts came up with a mix of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide to mimic each location’s ozone. The result is a physical and visible difference in the surrounding air as you walk into each dome.

Photo: Thor Nielsen / NTNU

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Guests start out in the Tautra Island pod, the cleanest and most refreshing of the locations. From there, visitors walk through the connecting hallways through progressively more polluted pods, eventually ending in New Delhi, the most polluted of the group. Don’t worry: Unlike in the actual cities, the air in the domes won’t harm you.

Photo: Michael Pinsky

In a world where it’s so hard to visualize the impact poor air quality has on everyday life — unless you find yourself commuting between Tautra and New Delhi often (hey, it could happen) — it’s a powerful message Pinsky is sharing. It’s almost impossible to imagine what the air quality feels like, especially after a long period of time, if you’re just spending a day or weekend in the area.

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The TED Conference may be over, but Michael Pinsky’s simulation has been shown in other parts of the world. You can keep tabs on the project over at his website.