Air Pollution Monitoring

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UK air quality information is based on modelling, it’s a best guess on what air quality might be like locally.

As hourly pollution levels are not being monitored locally, there is no way to know if the air our children breathe as they travel to nursery and school is illegally or harmfully high.

We decided to measure local pollution levels for ourselves and purchased an ‘AQMesh’ the most mature air monitor on the market.

We placed the monitor at the recommended 2.2m height on the lamp post at our local bus stop to measure nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

When NO2 is above 200ugm3 it is a toxic gas (measured over one hour). EU and UK law requires that hourly measurements of NO2 must not exceed 200ugm3 more than 18 times in a year.

Within the first four weeks, the monitor recorded seven exceedances above 200ugm3! One as high as 266ugm3!

The annual legal limit for NO2 is 40ugm3. Research shows that above this level is equivalent to a reduction in lung volume of 5%-10%. At our local bus stop we have an average of 71ugm3. Children and babies in buggies can be exposed to 60% more than an adult and even more than is being recorded at a 2.2 metre height!

This is the reality of the air our children are breathing across the UK but this is being hidden from us through the governments use of modelling based on their small number of air quality monitors. We should have thousands of small, wireless air monitors, lightweight and battery powered, so that they can be quickly and simply moved and mounted at the locations where air quality matters most – where children are.

Pollution data from these monitors should be transmitted to the ‘Cloud’ providing near real-time useful air quality data to the smartphones of parents, allowing them to select the route to nursery or school that minimises their child’s exposure to the most harmful levels of air pollution and to monitor air pollution levels they are exposed whilst at school.

What we can do.

We’ve started with this single monitor but we need hundreds for London alone. Every nursery and school on a busy road should have its own air monitored, preferably one which can be easily moved to measure air pollution levels in the classrooms and used for mapping the routes children take to school.

We have made contact with EarthSense who have made great strides with their Zephyr air monitor which you may have seen used in the BBC documentary “Fighting For Air”. They are very keen to help our campaign and have offered a fantastic low price per monitor if we are able to buy the large number we would need to measure air pollution as described above. AirMonitors Ltd have also offered a low price per AQMesh monitor for large numbers.

We’d hoped to add fundraising pages for schools but the reality has been little progress to even cover the cost of the first air monitor. We are exploring alternative ways to get the funding required to monitor air pollution at all schools in areas of high pollution.