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Mayor launches mobile air quality monitoring network to spot hotspots

16 Jan 2019

Will none fixed monitoring really provide an accurate gauge?

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today launched a network of air quality monitors to help City Hall investigate and improve London’s toxic air.

Breathe London will use a range of fixed and mobile sensors to build up a real-time, hyperlocal image of London’s air quality. The data these monitors collect from across the capital will provide detail about London’s air quality crisis and deliver new insight into the sources of pollution.

To deliver this project, the Mayor has collaborated with the Environmental Defense Fund Europe and Google Earth Outreach, who have equipped two of their Street View cars with air quality sensors. These will take pollution readings approximately every 30 metres at tens of thousands of locations whilst they travel through London’s streets, building up a picture of London’s air quality over the course of a year and identifying areas of toxic air that the network of fixed monitors might miss. Meanwhile, 100 state-of-the-art fixed sensor pods will be mounted on lampposts and buildings close to known air quality hotspots and sensitive locations such as schools and nurseries.

The data generated by this new network will be available for the public to view on an interactive online map on the Breathe London website. The map will show Londoners the condition of the air they are currently breathing and allow more accurate pollution forecasting.

This project builds on London’s existing air quality monitoring network, operated by the boroughs and King’s College London. With more than 100 fixed monitors in use London’s existing air quality monitoring network. The Breathe London project augments this by providing the ability to identify hotspots all over the city wherever they might be.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “London’s filthy air is a public health crisis that leads to thousands of premature deaths in the capital every year as well as stunting the development of young lungs and increasing cases of respiratory illness.

“An issue this large and complex requires bold and innovative action, so I’m proud that we’re leading the world in establishing this new monitoring network – allowing Londoners to see the levels of pollution at a local level. This real-time data will also help us learn more about London’s toxic air and help us to put the right policies in place to continue our clean-up efforts. As a recent Aether report demonstrated, these actions will benefit all Londoners, but particularly those living in the capital’s deprived areas. I hope the success of this scheme will act as a blueprint for cities around the world as they battle their own toxic air emergencies.

“The launch of Breathe London is just one part of my campaign to improve London’s air quality, alongside cleaning up the bus fleet, funding a scrappage scheme for micro-businesses to remove the most polluting vans and the launch of the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London in April. But we can't win this battle without more help from the Government, who, as we saw from their hugely disappointing Clean Air Strategy yesterday, are still failing to take this problem seriously and offer the support London needs to tackle this public health crisis.” 

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