Pol­lu­tion mon­i­tor­ing part­ner­ship is a breath of fresh air

THE (Times Higher Education) - - KING'S COLLEGE LONDON -

Set up in 1993, the King’s Col­lege Lon­don En­vi­ron­men­tal Re­search Group has main­tained a net­work of air qual­ity mon­i­tors across Lon­don that pro­vides hourly up­dates. It can now pre­dict air qual­ity ev­ery 20 me­tres up to and in­clud­ing the M25 mo­tor­way.

The group’s work has been in­stru­men­tal in gen­er­at­ing air pol­lu­tion pre­dic­tions for use in the Mayor of Lon­don’s Air Qual­ity Strat­egy, in­clud­ing the ef­fects of the Lon­don con­ges­tion charg­ing scheme and the Lon­don low-emis­sion zone.

Pol­i­cy­mak­ers, re­searchers and the pub­lic are able to check pol­lu­tion lev­els via its pur­pose­built web­site, Lon­don­air.org and app, Ci­tyAir. For Frank Kelly, di­rec­tor of the ERG, this is par­tially what makes the project so worth­while. “Ev­ery time I re­ceive a let­ter, email or com­ment from the pub­lic on the great work the King’s ERG is do­ing in re­port­ing and ex­plain­ing Lon­don’s air pol­lu­tion chal­lenges is a stand­out mo­ment for me.”

Dur­ing a se­vere pol­lu­tion episode in Jan­uary 2017, the web­site re­ceived more than 27,000 visi­tors in just three days.

The team is also hav­ing an im­pres­sive im­pact out­side the UK. In­creas­ingly, it is work­ing with in­ter­na­tional part­ners, par­tic­u­larly in Asia, to pro­vide ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise to help na­tions ad­dress air pol­lu­tion chal­lenges in their cities.

Re­cently, the team stud­ied the ex­po­sures of cit­i­zens liv­ing in high-rise tower blocks, which are preva­lent in Hong Kong. It is also us­ing in­no­va­tive sen­sor tech­nol­ogy to help un­der­stand the health ef­fects of dif­fer­ent types of pol­lu­tion in China, such as the traf­fic-dom­i­nated air pol­lu­tion in cen­tral Bei­jing ver­sus the biomass-dom­i­nated air pol­lu­tion out­side the city.

Look­ing to the fu­ture, the team is now ex­pand­ing its abil­ity to model air pol­lu­tion to in­clude the whole of the UK.

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