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London launches advanced air monitoring network

Mayor Sadiq Khan hopes the scheme will become a blueprint for other cities around the world that are battling toxic air

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London mayor Sadiq Khan is putting a raft of measures in place to improve air quality
London mayor Sadiq Khan is putting a raft of measures in place to improve air quality

London has launched what claims to be the world’s most advanced and comprehensive network of air quality monitors. It is the latest in a raft of measures put in place by Mayor Sadiq Khan to investigate and improve the UK capital’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 city will provide an unprecedented level of detail about London’s air quality crisis and deliver new insight into the sources of pollution.

 

Use of Google Street View cars

 

The Mayor has collaborated with the Environmental Defence Fund Europe and Google Earth Outreach, which has 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, 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.

 

In addition, 100 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 is already the most advanced of any world city. The Breathe London project augments this by providing the ability to identify hotspots all over the city wherever they might be.

“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 Breathe London project is being delivered by a consortium led by Environmental Defense Fund Europe (EDFE) and funded by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). The project itself was devised by City Hall and the C40 Cities – the leading global alliance of cities committed to addressing climate change. Once this approach and technology has been proven in London, the goal is to see it introduced in cities around the world.

 

“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,” said Khan.

 

“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.”

 

Overarching campaign

 

Other measures put in place as part of the mayor’s campaign to improve London’s air quality include 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,” added Khan.

 

More information about Breathe London and the latest air quality maps can be found at: www.breathelondon.org. More maps will come online in February.

 

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