Pollution monitoring partnership is a breath of fresh air
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.