London’s air quality goes online

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One of the AQMesh pods

Detailed information on London’s air pollution will now (starting 24 July) be published on breathelondon.org, the website for a new collaborative project to paint a clearer picture of the city’s air quality.

Visitors to the Breathe London website will be able to view almost live data (within an hour) on nitrogen dioxide; one of the urban pollutants of greatest concern.

The readings are being provided by a network of AQMesh air quality monitoring pods supplied and installed by Air Monitors, part of the ACOEM Group.

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The AQMesh pods are stationary – mostly mounted discreetly on lamp posts, but the pod data is being supplemented by measurements from instruments that have been installed by Air Monitors in two Google Street View Cars, as they travel the city’s streets.

Felicity Sharp, Air Monitors Managing Director, welcomed the announcement as “a major step forward”. She said: “The availability of highly localised air quality data is critical to the empowerment of citizens so that they can make choices that affect the quality of the air they breathe.

“In the past, air quality data has not been sufficiently local to allow most citizens to change the way they live their lives, but with the benefit of this website they will be able to choose where they want to walk, run, play, go to school or even buy a house.

“The data will also help to raise awareness and thereby encourage citizens to choose more environmentally friendly transport modes, particularly in pollution hotspots.

“Importantly, the data will also help national and local government to assess the effectiveness of air quality improvement measures. So this is great news for London, and we hope that it will be replicated in similar smart city projects around the world.”

Chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee, Caroline Russell (Assistant Mayor), responded to the announcement by drawing attention to the existing air pollution problems.

“A major contributor to the poor air quality in the capital is the number of planes flying relentlessly above us. The London Assembly Environment Committee heard from Heathrow Airport this morning about its plans to help combat some of the environmental impacts that the planned Heathrow expansion would bring. The plans proposed are not enough. Heathrow expansion is bad for Londoners, the UK and the planet and the London Assembly is strongly opposed to it.

“The expansion will not only impact air pollution caused by the increased number of planes but also the increased number of vehicles carrying passengers to and from the airport. That double whammy of more planes and cars is seriously concerning. Heathrow expansion fundamentally goes against the UK’s commitment to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality in the capital.”